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Carter stay-at-home strategy seems to be helping him

The carter campaign trial is right here. Jody Powell and Hodding Carter III are on The "stump" every day for th President.

They both have achieved a patient, deliberate speaking style that seems designed to tell the world that it is mirroring a strong president who is dealing thoughtfully with crises.

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And almost every day these two press secretaries are able to "make it" on the evening news -- with their comments on the latest developments on Iran and Afghanistan usually completely overshadowing whatever Ted Kennedy and Jerry Brown are saying out in Iowa or New Hampshire.

Of course, the candidate, himself, is the political big gun. President Carter is almost totally involved in big events in his daily pronouncements, giving the impression that he is unmindful of domestic politics these days. Meanwhile, surrogates like Vice-President Walter Mondale and First Lady Rosalynn Carter are scurrying around the United States -- and particularly Iowa -- in fullblown, out-in-the-open campaingning.

But here the President and those who speak for him are absorbed in portraying a "Presidential" image. Their puglic posture seems to rebut what they are accused of, but what they privately reveal: They are chortling over what their stay-at-home political strategy is doing to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.

Tuesday, Jan. 8 was a good example of how the Carter strategy wins attention -- and knocks the opposition out of the big TV shows.

The President briefed 80 members of congress in the East Room, making headlines with his assertion that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was the gravest threat to world peace since World War II.

But before Mr. Carter's evening comments, both Jody Powell and Hodding Carter already had let it be known to reporters that the President had reached this "grave" assessment of the Soviet action.

Mr. Powell, Mr. Carter's press secretary, also drew some headlines at his afternoon briefing of reporters by passing along a new presidential view of those who hold the US hostages in Iran. He said that they may be Marxist terrorists beyond the control even of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

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Hodding Carter, the official State Department spokesman, also disclosed this new presidential perception.

This is not to say that some recognition of what is happening in the political world doesn't creep into presidential utterances. For example, on several occasions the President gave his reasons for not debating: his feeling that this was no time for a president to be overly partisan, his desire to stay fully on top of developments in the crises.

And Mr. Powell does take time to respond to charges leveled at the PResident by the other Democrats, particularly Senator Kennedy. He doesn't pay much attention to what Governor Brown is saying.

Mr. Powell told reporters Jan. 8 that the presidential view was that Senator Kennedy was undercutting the Carter attempt to control the soviets by his opposition to the grain- cutoff sanction.

But the presidential image, as portrayed here by Mr. Carter and those who speak for him, is mainly of a no-nonsense president who each moment is dealing with substantial issues and particularly with the two crises.


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