President Carter's poor record led to Ronald Reagan's victory last week, panelists at the Kennedy School Forum said last night, disagreeing about the degree to which an ideological shift to the right also sparked the president-elect's landslide win.
I'm inclined to believe that this was not a turn to the right, but a turn-off," Gary P. Orren, professor of Government and moderator of the discussion, said.
Ron Brown, deputy campaign director of the campaign of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54 (D-Mass.), added, "The blue-collar worker's vote had nothing to do with ideology. It was a bread-and-butter issue."
All speakers on the panel, entitled "Why Reagan? Decisive Factors in Election '80," agreed that the debates had a significant influence on the outcome of the election. "The debates allowed Reagan to dispel his image as a racist warmonger," Rachelle Patterson, a correspondent for the Boston Globe who covered the Reagan campaign, said.
Michael McCloud, campaign manager for Rep. John B. Anderson (R-III.), told the audience not to be "too worried about Reagan's preeminence. Reagan tends to run a conservative campaign and then gather a staff of moderates around him," McCloud said.
The other panelist was Rich Williamson, special assistant to the chairman of the Reagan/Bush Committee.