GOP may mimic Democrats' 'common touch' in effort to widen support
Washington — Local Republican Party officials may open their doors to people seeking help for their personal problems -- much as Democratic precinct leaders have done in the past -- as the GOP seeks to become the nation's majority party.
Right now this plan is not much more than a generalized conception of Richard- Richards, Republican National Committee chairman. But Mr. Richards says he and other GOP leaders are "seriously exploring" a program wherein the party, at the local levels, would assist people who come to it with problems.
Specifically, Richards indicates the party soon will likely launch a campaign to recruit lawyers who would donate their services to the poor, a function now beind done through government-funded legal services programs.
Richards speaks approvingly of Democratic precint workers of the past who "helped people get through the red tape" of government.
He seems ready to shape a party that would open its doors -- and provide assistance -- to any voter who asked for help.
Richards, talking with reporters over breakfast June 23, said it has been part of the Democratic strategy to depict President Reagan and the Republican Party as friends of only the rich and not the poor.
He said this had been Democratic strategy for 50 years, but that it would not work any more because it was not longer true.
On other subjects, Richards:
* Conceded that Mr. Reagan's approval rating had dropped. But he said a pool done by Richard wirthlin for the party showed the dip was much less than that recorded by the Gallup Organization.
THe Gallup pool shows those who approve of Reagan's performance in office down 9 points to 59 percent, while Mr. Wirthlin finds Reagan's approval at 69 percent, a drop of 4 points.
Richards said he believes the decline is related to public impatience with the President for not being able to finish pushing his economic program through Congress. "I think you would find," he said, "that people would give members of Congress an even lower rating for not having enacted the program yet."
* Contended that there will be "no free rides" for Democrats up for election next year. Even if Democrats in Congress support the President on key votes, he said, they still will be targeted for fully funded efforts to defeat them if they are considered politically vulnerable.
There have been indications that the President is promising to not campaign personally against any Democrat in Congress who would support his economic programs.
Said a takeover of the House by Republicans was within the party's grasp. He said he expects the GOP to pick up an additional 10 seats as the result of reapportionment. "That leaves us with 16 to get," he said. "And I would expect that if it gets that close, there will be some conservative Democrats who will com e with us, probably identifying themselves as independents."