Conservatives favor Reagan, not his policies
Any Reagan budget concessions to liberals run the risk of turning conservative Republican grumbling into outright revolt.
That would seem to be the political message emanating from a gathering of some 200 staunch Republicans who met in Texas this weekend.
Howard Phillips, director of the Conservative Caucus Inc., told the Monitor that similar conferences around the US will force the administration to honor campaign pledges - or lose conservative votes in November.
In speeches to the faithful here, Sen. Jesse A. Helms (R) of North Carolina and Rep. John LeBoutillier (R) of New York echoed a common theme: personal support for Ronald Reagan hard-edged with criticism that conservatives have been ''betrayed'' by Reagan administration policies.
In his keynote address here (to the Texas Policy Institute conference on national defense), for example, Senator Helms attacked the administration's Latin American policies.
Latin America continues ''to drift into the clutches of Marxist revolutionaries,'' Helms said. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee member blamed the administration for leaving policymaking in the hands of ''diplomatic retreads'' rather than restaffing the State Department with officials willing ''to implement Ronald Reagan's policies.''
The result, Helms warned, is a continued refusal to accept that ''the Soviet stretegy is and has been to encircle and surround the United States with socialist nations.''
Continued restrictions on US aid to Central American countries, he said, could turn El Salvador and Guatemala, like Cuba and Nicaragua, into ''platforms for the projection of Soviet power not only south to Colombia and Venezuela, but also north to Mexico.''
Freshman Congressman LeBoutillier, a member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, said the administration's Latin American mistakes are being repeated around the world.
Citing the clampdown on the Polish trade union Solidarity, Mr. LeBoutillier said ''What happened in Poland should be the model for us about what can happen to every Communist country . . . .'' Avoiding such situations elsewhere depends, he said, on an administration which accepts that ''we are at war today with the Soviet Union.''
LeBoutillier says he is encouraged that Mr. Reagan overruled ''every single member of his staff'' when they reportedly favored new taxation. This youngest member of Congress claims that Reagan ''was forced to go against his own instincts'' when he reversed his opposition to the Soviet-West German natural gas pipeline.
One sign of conservative GOP discontent: the warm applause given to a Democrat, Rep. James D. Santini of Nevada. He said that the nation's ''deteriorating industrial base'' means that ''our military defense posture is impaired and our capacity to carry out a national foreign policy is similarly impaired.''
Conservative Democrats such as Mr. Santini can expect Conservative Caucus support, Mr. Phillips said, because ''a conservative Democrat is not going to roll over and forget about issues just because he gets a bear hug from Ronald Reagan.''
Gen. Albion W. Knight, one of six retired military officers addressing the conference, called on the President to withdraw from arms-control negotiations and cease supplying the Soviet Union ''with food, with technology, with money'' because ''that is not courage, that is appeasement.''