Reagan lends California GOP a hand

This was ''Reagan week'' for the two top Republican office seekers in California.

Monday night, Aug. 23, the President helped pour $1 million into the campaign coffers of San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson, GOP candidate for the US Senate. Mr. Reagan - in Western garb and looking as though he had just left his horse in the corral - spoke briefly on a sound stage of the 20th Century Fox studios in Hollywood at what was billed as a ''Reagan country roundup.''

Tuesday night the President, who is vacationing at his ranch near Santa Barbara, was in Los Angeles again for a black-tie reception on behalf of state Attorney General George Deukmajian, Republican candidate for governor. Reagan delivered an enthusiastic endorsement, especially praising Mr. Deukmajian's tough anticrime attitude. Like Mr. Wilson's fund-raiser the previous night, this presidential affair was a bonanza worth more than $1 million.

The Wilson barbecue was not without its ironies. Yale man Wilson remarked that former movie actor Reagan was obviously comfortable in the familiar setting. But the senatorial candidate himself seemed out of character in his Western shirt, blue jeans, and red bandana.

And when the President told the Republican audience, ''If you can't send Pete Wilson (to the US Senate), don't send anybody,'' it seemed to underline White House preoccupation from early in the primary campaign with keeping California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. out of Washington - rather than with the identity of his GOP opponent.

Nor did anyone have to be reminded that the President won his recent battle for passage of the tax reform bill without the support of senatorial candidate Wilson - but with the emphatic backing of Governor Brown.

It was not the first major issue on which Wilson has been at odds with White House policy. The senatorial candidate in mid-July switched his position on the nuclear freeze initiative; he had been campaigning against it, but softened his position to say he could vote for it if the backers issued a statement that their long-term objective was a reduction in US and Soviet nuclear weapons. Later, he added another condition - there should be no freeze unless the Soviet Union agreed ''at least in principle'' to ''verifiable'' reductions.

Wilson also has been somewhat ahead of the President in suggesting long-term changes in the social security system. To avoid future funding problems, he has proposed allowing workers under 45 years old to contribute less to the system and receive lower benefits on retirement.

The governor, in a series of television commercials urging voters to ''take another look at Jerry Brown,'' in effect charged Wilson with threatening present social security benefits of the elderly. Wilson called the commercials ''dishonest'' and turned the second ''look'' phrase by quoting the title of a song - ''Just One Look, That's All It Took'' - recorded by Linda Ronstadt, a friend of the governor.

Each candidate has committed at least one serious breach of etiquette, if not ethics. Wilson threatened to campaign for the recall of state Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Bird if the court declared Proposition 8, the recently passed anticrime initiative, unconstitutional. Some charged him with trying to influence a pending court decision. Brown administration officials and campaign aides have been charged by some state employees with putting pressure on them to donate to the governor's already well-heeled campaign.

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