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Nation: Repairing the Lines

2 minute read

Nothing has so angered Republican moderates and liberals on the Hill as their studied neglect by the Republican in the White House. Their alienation has cost the President votes on a number of issues in the past two years, and last week Nixon began repairing his badly frayed lines of communication.

He spent an hour and a half one afternoon with Vermont’s George Aiken and Kentucky’s John Sherman Cooper, both Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who have been persistently critical of Nixon’s policies. Next day the President invited another Senate critic, Massachusetts’ Edward Brooke, to come by for a talk. In his most conciliatory gesture, Nixon appointed a new White House lobbyist in Congress.

His choice was Clark MacGregor, 48, a moderate G.O.P. Congressman who, at the President’s urging, ran for the Senate this fall against Hubert Humphrey and lost. A hearty Minnesotan with Scot-red hair and a gregarious political nature, MacGregor has spent ten years in Congress, thoroughly understands its members and nuances. With a strong civil rights record, he should find a receptive audience among the Republican congressional liberals.

Bigger Tent. According to MacGregor, Nixon now intends to practice the “politics of inclusion.” Says MacGregor: “I have tried to make the point that the Republican Party is a big tent, and should be bigger. Various Republicans reflect different constituencies, but all of these are the President’s constituencies.”

The first task, as MacGregor knows, will be communications. His own are secure: he will report directly to Nixon rather than through presidential aides. MacGregor promised that all congressional phone calls will be answered within 24 hours; the lack of prompt response is a point of much criticism. MacGregor may increase his office’s staff as much as 50%. He also vowed to let Congressmen know exactly where the President stands on pending legislation. Says MacGregor: “I’m going to be in the position of a lawyer with one client and a jury of 535. The cause is attractive. It is the legislative success of the Nixon Administration.”

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