SACRAMENTO — Gov. George Deukmejian, declaring that he "strongly disapproved" of Assemblyman Tom Hayden's Vietnam-era anti-war activities, said Tuesday that if he were still a member of the Legislature, he would have voted Monday to oust the two-term Santa Monica Democrat.
Speaking to reporters one day after Assembly Democrats beat back a Republican-led move to expel Hayden, the GOP governor said the lawmaker's actions nearly 20 years ago "did not, under the Constitution, qualify him to remain as a member of the Assembly."
In reply, Hayden charged that the governor's abrupt entry into the controversy surrounding his radical past was evidence that Deukmejian either "temporarily left his senses or was programmed as part of an overall Republican (election) strategy."
Deukmejian discussed Hayden in response to reporters' questions after a speech to a statewide Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Sacramento. The governor did not mention Hayden in the speech.
In his address, Deukmejian asserted that those who criticize him for allowing California National Guard troops to be deployed in Central America "don't understand our National Guard and they don't understand me."
The Democratic-controlled Legislature inserted a provision into the proposed state budget that would require the governor to notify lawmakers before sending guard troops to foreign countries. Deukmejian said he sees no need for such a provision but would not say whether he intends to remove it from the budget bill.
However, in a break with the Reagan Administration, Deukmejian told reporters that he opposes federal legislation supported by Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger that would strip the power of governors to block foreign deployment of guard troops.
Meanwhile, the governor announced in a speech prepared for delivery on television Tuesday evening that today he will veto $706 million from the $37.4-billion new state budget sent to him by the Legislature.
However, $283 million of the vetoes will be restored, Deukmejian said, if the lawmakers pass "legislation needed to complete their budget process." A gubernatorial aide said this was a reference to Deukmejian's attempt to coax the Legislature into financing state operations by dipping into the pension funds of retired public workers. Democrats and Republicans alike currently are refusing to do that.
Signing of Budget
The governor did not provide specifics of his vetoes, and his staff refused to discuss them until after the budget is signed today.
Monday's unsuccessful move to oust Hayden from the Legislature was backed by Assembly Republicans on the basis of a provision in the state Constitution that prohibits anyone who "advocates the support of a foreign government" during hostilities from holding public office. Hayden made four trips to North Vietnam during the war.
Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) allowed a brief floor debate on Hayden's conduct as a radical anti-war activist but then ruled that it was improper to oust him, because the activities in question took place long before Hayden first was elected in 1982. Brown was backed in his decision by Democrats, who hold the majority in the Assembly.
In response to a question, Deukmejian, a former legislator and a U.S. Army veteran, said a decision to remove Hayden properly belongs to the Legislature.
He added, "If I had been there and voting, I would have voted in favor of the motion" to remove Hayden from office.
Caught by Surprise
Hayden said the governor's remarks caught him by surprise, because Deukmejian "is usually a rational decision maker" and because he was never asked his side of the story.
"I can only therefore assume it's further proof that this is 100% political strategy by Republicans, who are placating the fringe right of their party, instead of keeping the focus on the moderate and independent swing voters," Hayden said.
Deukmejian last clashed with Hayden in 1984, when the governor backed his reelection opponent, David Shell, who was court-martialed by the Air Force in 1967 for drug abuse. Deukmejian attended a fund-raiser for Shell and said at the time that the conviction should not prevent Shell from serving in the Legislature.
Hayden cited that as an example of the governor's inconsistency and added: "So the governor should look before he leaps."