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Carter hurt politically by grain ban?

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The moratorium on taking pot shots at the President's foreign policy is over. Mr. Carter is getting it from all sides on his wheat cutoffs to the Soviets. And the rumblings of discontent about his handling of the crisis in Iran are growing.

The big imponderable now is how Mr. Carter's withholding of grain will affect the outcome of the Jan 21 Iowa precinct caucuses.

Nationally, this Carter grain move, along with several other penalties he imposed on the Soviets for their invasion of Afghanistan, drew an initial wait-and-see reaction. But the break in bipartisanship now is clear:

* The President's Democratic rivals -- US Sen Edward M. Kennedy and California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. -- have called Mr. Carter's foreign policy "weak."

"A weak policy can't be redeemed by suddenly becoming tough on farmers," said Mr. Kennedy.

Mr. Brown called Mr. Carter "naive." He said the President was trying to make political gains out of both the Iran and Afghanistan crises.

* Five Republican presidential candidates -- John B. Connaly, Robert dole, Howard H. Baker Jr., George Bush, and Philip M. Crane -- used the Des Moines debating platform to attack the President's foreign policy, particularly his cutoff of grain to the Soviets.

However, Republican candidate John B. Anderson charged his five opponents in the debate Saturday night with playing politics with the grain issue. He implied that the only reason GOP hawks wouldn't hail the Carter move was because they thought by doing so they would lose votes in Iowa.

Mr. Anderson supported the Carter move and characterized it as an act of political courage.


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