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Presidential contenders split on Reagan's Grenada tactics

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The United States military sweep into Grenada has revealed significant differences between the seven men vying for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984.

Most of the candidates, stunned by the one-two punch of Lebanon and then Grenada, were initially cautious in their responses to Reagan White House policies in both areas.

However, over the weekend all seven spoke out with reactions that appeared to fall into three broad categories - support for Reagan policies in Grenada, open hostility toward those policies, and cautious criticism.

Strongly hostile to what the President had done were Sens. Gary Hart, Alan Cranston, Ernest Hollings, and former Sen. George McGovern.

Supporting the military action in Grenada was former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew, who comes from a state with strong anti-Castro sentiments.

Cautiously critical were the two front-runners, former Vice-President Walter Mondale and Sen. John Glenn.

The caution on the part of Mr. Mondale and Mr. Glenn - who have the most to lose by a misstep - was understandable.

Public-opinion polls and call-ins both indicate that President Reagan's action in Grenada is drawing support from the man in the street.

On Sunday, for example, the Washington Post-ABC News poll reported that American voters backed the military action in Grenada by a 53 percent to 37 percent margin before the President made his nationwide speech explaining the decision. After his speech, that margin of support grew to 63 to 31.

Also, on Friday night, the ABC-TV late-night news program ''Nightline'' conducted an unscientific straw poll in which viewers favored the military landing in Grenada by an 8-to-1 margin. A near-record 565,000 callers jammed the network's telephone lines during the show.

Walter Mondale's careful approach to the Grenada issue was shown when a Monitor reporter asked him whether he supported the President's action shortly after US marines and Army rangers had landed on the Caribbean island. Mondale begged off, saying he didn't have enough information to make an intelligent comment.

Later, his office issued a statement hedged with ''ifs'':

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