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Can't Be Trusted, He Says in Idaho : President Assails Soviets' Troop Pullouts as 'Phony'

November 01, 1986|ELEANOR CLIFT | Times Staff Writer

TWIN FALLS, Ida. — President Reagan accused the Soviet Union of "phony troop pullouts" in Afghanistan during a campaign appearance here Friday, and said the Soviet record in that country is evidence they cannot be trusted on arms control.

"This is critical because the same people who announced phony troop pullouts in Afghanistan last month are saying 'trust us' on arms control this month," Reagan told a rally at the College of Southern Idaho. "They cannot have it both ways."

Reagan is hoping that tough talk about the Soviets will boost turnout among GOP stalwarts in this conservative state and provide the critical margin of difference for Sen. Steven D. Symms (R-Ida.).

Race Too Close to Call

Symms is running for reelection against popular Democratic Gov. John V. Evans. Polls show the race is too close to call.

"Phony bookkeeping won't end the war," Reagan told a capacity crowd of young people jammed into the school's rodeo arena. "So I have a message for the Soviets: Pull back in Afghanistan and move forward on arms control."

The Defense Intelligence Agency said Thursday that the Soviets have 116,000 troops in Afghanistan, almost the same number they had in July when Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev announced the withdrawal of six regiments. Gorbachev contended that the withdrawal would reduce troop strength to 112,000 from 118,000.

At an earlier stop in Spokane, Wash., for Sen. Slade Gorton, Reagan proclaimed emphatically that "I mean to include ridding all nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth," as part of his goal of constructing a space-based missile defense system.

Reagan's declaration kept alive the confusion over how far he went in discussions with Gorbachev in Iceland last month. The Administration contends that Reagan only offered to eliminate ballistic missiles at the end of a 10-year period.

'No Change in Policy'

White House spokesman Larry Speakes said that Reagan's latest formulation represented "no change in the policy, no change in the proposal."

Reagan is campaigning hard to generate support for GOP candidates in Western states, where his popularity is at an all-time high. Reagan appears today in Anaheim and Monday in Santa Ana to boost Rep. Ed Zschau's campaign against Sen. Alan Cranston. White House officials added a stop in Las Vegas Monday in an 11th-hour effort for Jim Santini, who is running behind Rep. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in the race for the seat of retiring Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.).

Reagan's key role in the 1986 campaign was underlined Friday by aides, who noted that he has raised $33 million for GOP candidates since May, 1985.

Republicans hold a 53-47 margin in the Senate.

"Do you want (Massachusetts Sen.) Ted Kennedy controlling the confirmation of federal court judges?" Reagan asks at each stop, raising the specter of a liberal takeover of the Senate as his cheering supporters yell "Noooo."

To the persistent cries of "Four more years," Reagan says he would settle for "two more years of a Republican Senate." Meanwhile, in Washington, retiring House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) accused Reagan of distorting his Administration's record and predicted that Democrats would add 10 seats to their already overwhelming majority in the House. They have a 253-180 majority in the House.

'Send Wake-up Call'

"Instead of being a time to cheer the Republicans in power, it is time to send them a wake-up call," O'Neill said at a news conference.

"The Administration brags that it is 'morning in America.' The fact is, real median family income is lower today than it was in the last decade," O'Neill said. "The fact is the entire center of the country has been denied its piece of the economic action the past six years."

He said the overall trade deficit stands at $150 billion a year--five times what it was when Reagan took office, and that the Republican-led Senate had refused to consider sweeping trade legislation passed by the House.

O'Neill said that he had recently looked at polling figures compiled by Rep. Tony Coelho (D-Merced), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, that indicated the Democrats could lose four seats and pick up an additional 14--giving them a net gain of 10 seats in the 435-member House.

Times staff writer Karen Tumulty in Washington contributed to this story.

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