George Bush is not rushing to put distance between himself and the President in order to establish an independent political identity as the 1988 race gathers steam. But, in a recent interview with the Monitor, the vice-president spelled out some areas where he says he has made a difference in the Reagan presidency:
Reducing government regulations. ``I think one of the best things we did was the task force [on deregulation] that the President had me head up and the recommendations that he approved that I was responsible for. . . . I think it set a major pillar . . . under our economic policy.''
Drugs. ``I hope that what we've done -- and I think people in Miami will tell you it has -- has made a difference in terms of the interdiction of narcotics. The problem is so big we've still got a long way to go but . . . there was a survey showing 40 percent of the people wanted to leave Miami, and we turned that around.''
El Salvador. ``I know some people in the State Department will tell you this -- the situation in San Salvador [improved] when at the President's request I went down, convened a meeting of all the commandants in one room and said, `Look, you want to get continued support from the United States? You better clean up your act. You better have more respect for the law.' ''
Deployment of US nuclear missiles in Europe. ``Most people felt that a trip I took to Europe, to Germany, to England, where it was a high-visibility trip, really helped shape public opinion in that part of the world in support of our program'' to install Pershing II missiles and cruise missiles.
Asked where he feels he has demonstrated leadership qualities, Mr. Bush responded:
``Well, I don't know about leadership qualities. I'm talking about leadership where you've done things -- building a business and running it, or running the CIA and doing it well, or leading in the sense of peers being supportive or surviving when a lot of other people with bigger names got into the  primaries and were routed much sooner than I, winning in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania -- that must have been some perception of leadership there to attract support from the people.
``It's not accidental that our political-action committee is getting more support than anybody else's. And clearly some of those people must have some sense that I stand for something and can lead.
``But, now, when you're in a vice-president's job -- where I'm determined that I am not going to go out staking out high-profile positions separate and apart from this administration -- then sometimes those things are sublimated and that just goes with the territory.''
What has Bush learned about presidential power and how to exercise it? His reply:
``Take a few central themes that you believe strongly in and stay with them, and not get down on people who are criticizing you and just stay with what you think is the right course of action and manage through that. Don't be afraid to pass out assignments to others, to delegate, but lead through adherence to certain principles and I've learned a lot on that.''