President Reagan seems to be striking just the right political note now as he pushes his proposal to reduce US and Soviet strategic nuclear warheads by one-third.
In his speech in Eureka, Ill., and then in his press conference last week, Mr. Reagan spoke to the problem of easing public anxiety over the possibility of a nuclear confrontation.
And a reporter, just back from talking to voters in several areas in the highly diverse state of Illinois, can confirm that the President's emphasis on seeking global peace is playing very well--in the big, middle-sized, and smaller communities and in the rural areas as well.
In Champaign-Urbana, in east-central Illinois, some students at the University of Illinois were discussing the President. They didn't think too much of him, they said. They felt he was against student loans and not sympathetic to public education. They cited his support for tax credits for parents with children in private/parochial schools as an example of what they saw as a bias away from public schools.
But they all were heartened by what they saw as Reagan's new peace initiative. ''I like what he is saying,'' said one student, ''even if he simply is trying to take the issue away from Democrats like (Sen. Edward M.) Kennedy.''
''He does sound conciliatory now,'' said another, ''and that's a good sign.''
At a nearby farm community the conversation at a group gathering soon focused on Reagan, on how he was doing, and particularly, on what he had said at Eureka about seeking a nuclear pact. There was general approval.
At several stops between Chicago and Springfield, about 180 miles, this reporter heard people discussing the President and speaking highly of his peace plan.
The economy, particularly failing businesses, unemployment, and what is usually just called ''the farm problem'' got the most verbal attention.
But Reagan and his peace plan was, without the reporter bringing up the subject, right up near the top on the conversational menu.
Earlier, conversations with Chicagoans also indicated that the President had gotten their attention and, largely, won their approval with his Eureka proposal.
And in Springfield, convening members of the state Legislature were quick to talk about Reagan's peace plan when asked to comment about the President. Again the flavor was that of approval - that it was time that he move in this direction.
Before the reporter's trip to the Midwest, he had talked to a number of political leaders in all geographical regions, asking them what was most on the minds of the people in their areas.
The No. 1 issue, they reported, was the economy, with the main focus on unemployment and troubled businesses.
But right near the top, they said, was the war-and-peace issue with what was pictured as a growing concern that the US and Soviets were heading toward an arms race that would inevitably lead to a nuclear confrontation.
That was just before the Eureka speech.
And now the President has come forth with his plan for ending the arms race.
And from the people in Illinois - who some observers say reflect most groups and sections in the United States - now comes this indication that when Mr. Reagan talks of seeking peace through a nuclear-arms-reduction pact he is saying just what the people want to hear.