Nation: Politics: A Northern-Southern Strategy

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Nevertheless, he added, the Administration "faces a credibility gap of enormous proportions" with blacks. He noted that Nixon had "asked black Americans to judge him by his deeds and not his words; we have done that—and we have been greatly disappointed." He revived his 1963 plea for a domestic Marshall Plan to help all poor people, black and white.

The controversy was perhaps even more intense within the Republican Party's own ranks. Kevin Phillips, a former Justice Department official whose 1969 book The Emerging Republican Majority outlined a basically conservative strategy that depends heavily on capturing the South, now writes a newspaper column. In it he took the position last week that current Administration policy runs the risk of losing both North and South. Charging that White House aides had "clumsily orchestrated an excessive policy shift" toward the left. Phillips argued that the Administration is "progressively alienating not only Southern conservatives but the Reaganite West and elements of the conservative intellectual movement"—and doing so without gaining any offsetting liberal support.

Administration officials insist that they have no intention of abandoning any part of the South to George Wallace, although they concede that they had hoped their policy had been conciliatory enough to undercut Wallace and prevent his victory in Alabama. Despite Wallace's survival, "nobody's writing off the Wallace states in any shape or form," says one Nixon official.

No Room to the Right. The Republican Ripon Society, a group dominated by young liberals, issued an 84-page examination of the relationship between the G.O.P. and the South. It charged that the Nixon Administration was "embarked upon a cynical and racially divisive path that can only end in tragedy." Moreover, the report said, any policy that tries to adjust "to the fears and prejudices of a narrow class of voters in the end is bound to fail." Based on a detailed state-by-state analysis, the Ripon report argues that there is "no room to the right" of rural Southern Democratic politicians for the Republican Party to move in; that Southerners will almost always prefer a conservative Democrat to a conservative Republican; and that the real opportunity for the party lies in an appeal to "the new South," which is largely urban and increasingly liberal in its attitude toward economic and social problems.

Even Wallace, the report says, gains votes partly because he is an economic liberal in the populist tradition despite his racial views. Noting the success of such moderate Republicans as Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, Virginia Governor Linwood Holton, Tennessee Senator Howard Baker and Texas Congressman George Bush, the report contends that such candidates "won by appealing to just those groups that the Southern strategy rejects."

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