Citizens for America sends a conservative message across US
Boston — President Ronald Reagan soon may have his own well-organized team of cheerleaders in each of the nation's 435 congressional districts. That is the goal of a conservative, grass-roots lobbying force now taking shape across the United States.
Citizens For America (CFA), which first sprouted last summer at the behest of the President, is dedicated to supporting and promoting Reagan policies ''for economic growth and a strong national defense.''
The organization, headed by Lewis E. Lehrman, the millionaire Republican businessman and New York GOP gubernatorial nominee, plans an ongoing two-dimensional program in behalf of its cause.
''We are a nonpartisan civic group banded together in the common interest of building a stronger America,'' explains former Boston Mayor John F. Collins, a member of the CFA national steering committee.
The Massachusetts Democrat, emphasizing the goal is to bring together those who believe in the same principles whether they be Republican, Democratic, or independent, declared: ''We are pro-life, pro-family, pro-liberty, pro-economic growth, pro-free enterprise, pro-jobs, and pro-strong defense.''
Messrs. Lehrman and Collins make it clear they feel President Reagan is on the right track in his leadership of the nation.
They deny vehemently, however, that theirs is a single-candidate force, explaining they will not endorse political candidates, not even President Reagan.
''We expect to be around for a long time,'' and as much an ongoing part of the scene as the League of Women Voters, Mr. Lehrman asserted when questioned what would become of CFA when President Reagan leaves office.
Mr. Collins says he expects in the future others committed to the ideals and goals of President Reagan will be around with programs and policies CFA members can support.
Through its local chapters, CFA hopes to present its point of view to public forums, on radio and television talk shows, and in guest columns and letters to the editor in newspapers and magazines. Other activities will include grass-roots, in-person lobbying of congressmen to back Reagan programs and policies.
The CFA leaders contend that for too long ''special interests, such as consumer, environmental, affirmative action, and feminist groups, have monopolized media attention,'' resulting in the media's ''neglecting the views of mainstream America.''
Mr. Lehrman came to Massachusetts last week to assist in the CFA organizational effort. He has visited nearly half the 50 states since early August when he was recruited by San Francisco businessman Jack Hume, a longtime Reagan adviser, to spearhead the conservative group's plans.
Some 150 congressional districts in 22 states now have chapters and by January 1985 Lehrman anticipates having one of these conservative-activist teams in every congressional district.
Handpicked for CFA chairman here in the Bay State is Frank McNamara, the Boston attorney who was the 1982 Republican challenger of US House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. (D) of Massachusetts.
Others on the team include George Kariotis, the high-tech industrialist who was state secretary of economic affairs under Edward J. King, the former Democratic governor.
The former head of state has been a staunch booster of fiscal and other policies of Republican President Reagan.
Although not directly involved in any specific candidacy, CFA strategists say they aim to have an impact on whoever is elected to replace US Sen. Paul E. Tsongas, the Bay State, neoliberal Democrat who announced earlier this month that he has chosen not seek reelection this year.