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So far, the Carter travel schedule is much more flexible than Reagan's; stops are generally set for only a week or two in advance. He expects to travel just two or three days a week, holding just one major event a day appearances timed for maximum free TV news coverage. To cut costs, he intends to avoid overnight trips as much as possible and has asked campaign aides to double up in hotels or stay with friends while on trips.
Geographically, the Carter advisers place great emphasis on the President's need to hold the South, where in 1976 he won ten states and 98 of his total of 297 electoral votes. The Democrats know they must also win some states that Carter lost to Gerald Ford in 1976, including Michigan, Connecticut, Iowa and New Mexico. Differing with Reagan's assessment, they now see new hope of mounting a serious challenge in California, where Carter Pollster Pat Caddell has the President trailing by only eight points. Similarly, Carter will work hard in Texas, where he sees possibilities.
The Carter advisers are counting on Vice President Walter Mondale to shepherd unhappy Kennedy supporters back into the Democratic fold. One recruit about to sign up: Robert Kennedy Jr., now a law student at the University of Virginia Law School. Mondale is also busily holding "unity meetings" to strengthen the old Democratic coalition that many experts feel will grudgingly regroup as Nov. 4 and the prospect of a Ronald Reagan presidency loom ever closer.
As for John Anderson, the Carter tactic is to ignore him publicly and try to downgrade his importance. Privately, however, the White House is deeply worried about the Congressman's threat. In 1976 Eugene McCarthy, running independently, won just 1% of the vote, but the Carterites insist that was enough to tip Maine, Iowa, Oklahoma and Oregon into Ford's column.
Carter desperately wants to keep Anderson out of the first debate because of the invaluable exposure it would give him. Indeed Carter's men have even suggested that the League of Women Voters hold a five-way first debate, including Libertarian Candidate Ed Clark and the Citizen's Party's Barry Commoner, to take some of the play away from Anderson. But the league turned down the proposal. The President's strategists concede that they have been boxed in by Reagan and Anderson on the debate issue; they fear public wrath if the President ducks a first debate with the other two.
Anderson's chances of at least finishing the race brightened considerably last week. His cash-short campaign got relief when the Federal Election Commission ruled that he will be eligible for federal funds if he winds up with 5% or more of the votes. Although how much he could get will depend on how well he draws on Election Day, Anderson now plans to borrow $5 million, raising his anticipated war chest to $ 15 million. (Candidates who do not qualify for total federal funding are allowed to raise private funds to cover the difference between their eventual government grant and the full subsidy of $29.4 million.)