When Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54 (D-Mass.) marched proudly through the Kennedy School of Government and Sanders Theater on Tuesday, he accused President Carter of bungling the United States' foreign policy in Iran and Afghanistan and demanded that Carter speak out on the dual dilemma in the Near East.
Carter, with a chorus of support from Press Secretary Jody Powell and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, wasted no time in responding, calling Kennedy's charges beyond "bounds of both propriety and accuracy," during a press conference on Wednesday night in Washington.
The two candidates clashed on several specific issues, including the question of who has or has not suported the proposed international investigatory commission on the deposed Shah that Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr has said would facilitate the release of the 50 American hostages. But the two-day exchange demonstrated that both men are emphasizing their campaigns in the fortnight preceding the New Hampshire primary, neglecting clear discussions of foreign and domestic affairs.
Commenting after Kennedy's speech, Richard E. Neustadt, Littauer Professor of Public Administration, said, "There is damned little that one can glean from afar in this campaign. Nothing has been said about Iran or Afghanistan to speak of in a long time."
Neither Neustadt nor Michael Nacht, associate professor of Public Policy at the Kennedy School, criticized Carter for his refusal to emerge from the White House and debate Kennedy.
Both men agreed that Kennedy benefited from the week of charges and counter charges. "Kennedy has climbed a long way back since his statement on the Shah," Nacht said, adding, "People believe more than before that Carter is playing politics with the Iran and Afghanistan situations."
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