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The Senate Campaign: It's Down to the Wire : Cranston Asserts His Independence

November 02, 1986|KEITH LOVE | Times Political Writer

SAN JOSE — While Republican U.S. Senate nominee Ed Zschau was being touted by President Reagan in Orange County on Saturday, Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston, campaigning far to the north, had a question for Zschau:

"When is he going to stand on his own feet for whatever it is that he believes?" Cranston asked in an interview after an event in San Jose.

"Californians want an independent senator," Cranston said. "Someone who will, as I have done, stand up for what he believes. They want someone who will support the President when he thinks he is right but have the courage to oppose him when that is called for."

Cranston acknowledged that he has often been on the opposite side of Reagan in congressional battles, but he noted that he had supported the President in 1983 when Zschau and others wanted to rescind Reagan's authority to cut off exports to foreign countries even if those nations might have aided terrorists.

Other Laws Available

Zschau has argued that that authority would have undercut U.S. businesses and that the President had other laws available to him to deal with terrorist-aiding countries.

Cranston's reference to Zschau's beliefs was a play on the senator's oft-stated contention that Zschau, having changed his position on issues a number of times, is not sure what he believes.

It was the closest Cranston came to attacking Zschau on Saturday as he attempts to close out his campaign on a positive note.

The senator is traveling the state to tout his record on the environment, child care and other issues.

Although he and the President are old adversaries, going back to 1966 when Reagan was running for governor in California and Cranston was seeking reelection as controller, Cranston was reluctant to attack the highly popular Reagan on Saturday.

Instead, as other Democratic candidates are doing throughout the country, the senator sought to differentiate between Reagan's appeal and the prospects for Zschau in next Tuesday's election.

'Incredibly Popular'

"The President is incredibly popular," Cranston told reporters, "but I do not think his visit will have an impact on the Senate race. The people like him personally but they do not agree with all of his policies."

Told that the President had accused him Saturday of voting over the years to weaken America's national defense, Cranston noted that he had "supported every defense appropriations bill on the final vote while he (Reagan) has been President."

Cranston also said Zschau has not been as supportive of the President on defense matters as Zschau would like conservative Republicans to believe.

Both Cranston and Zschau supported recent congressional action to cut the Pentagon budget for fiscal 1987 by 3%. Both also oppose the MX missile, which Reagan wants to build, and they want lower funding for the Strategic Defense Initiative than Reagan is requesting.

Clean Water Act

After visiting the South Bay Wildlife Refuge near San Jose, which he helped create, Cranston urged Reagan to sign the 1986 Clean Water Act.

"He reluctantly supported the Superfund (for toxic cleanups) this year, so I do not know if he is going to sign the clean water legislation," said Cranston, who was a champion of both bills and also backs Proposition 65, the clean drinking water initiative on Tuesday's ballot.

Zschau voted against the 1985 Clean Water Act for budgetary reasons, but supported it this year and also backed the Superfund. Zschau opposes Proposition 65, charging that it would create a "legal blizzard" and hurt California business and agriculture.

Cranston Praised

Environmentalist and author Paul Ehrlich praised Cranston on Saturday for the senator's role in creating parks and wildlife refuges.

"Without Alan Cranston we would literally not be standing here," Ehrlich said at the San Jose wildlife refuge.

"It is not just a place for wildlife. It is a place for people," Erlich said.

Traveling with Cranston on Saturday were television and film actors Robert Walden, Joseph Spano, Shelley Duvall, Morgan Fairchild and Marilu Henner.

Henner, who played the voluptuous Elaine on the TV show "Taxi," introduced Cranston at one event as "one sexy guy."

Many of those at the San Jose event craned their necks to see the actors, but not Thomas Hillard, a 4-year-old from Palo Alto. He was there to see someone else, whose face has also been on television a lot lately.

"There he is!" young Thomas yelled. It was Cranston. The senator bent down and gave Thomas' hand a big shake.

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