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Republicans and Iran Arms Issue

January 28, 1987

While the Democrats have good reason to enter 1987 with a new sense of optimism, not all is well on the Democratic front. Specifically, it is the source of this new optimism, the Iranian arms affair, which the Democrats may yet founder upon.

First, the increasingly partisan tone of the congressional investigations may hurt the Democrats as it could well engender a backlash of sympathy for President Reagan. The public's distaste for any Reagan-bashing will only intensify as the evidence exonerating the President from knowledge of the contra diversion continues to mount.

A second problem is the Democrats' own preoccupation with the Iranian investigation, which will divert attention from their discussion of other issues. One of the benefits Democrats gain from controlling the 100th Congress is a forum to demonstrate to the American people that Democrats can govern effectively. However, the Democratic agenda may well get lost in the shuffle as the affair drags on throughout the year.

The voters will be assured that Democrats are competent investigators, but they will still ask themselves, can the Democrats also govern?

A final concern resulting from the Iranian affair, of particular detriment to the two Democratic front-runners for 1988, may be the public's desire to elect a President with a solid expertise in foreign affairs. Despite former Sen. Gary Hart's (D-Colo.) association with military reorganization and his recent trip to the Soviet Union, foreign affairs is not his strong suit. New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, on the other hand, has absolutely no background in international relations. Of the potential candidates, only Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) can lay claim to the expertise that may prove especially palatable in 1988.

All in all, the Democrats have reason to feel confident as the new year begins. But recall that Republicans in early 1986 were also busy convincing themselves of their invincibility, and as 1987 progresses, Democratic glee may likewise turn to gloom.

DONALD A. KRAFT

National Director

National Republican Foundation

Washington

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