WASHINGTON (Sep. 28)
Sen. Richard Stone (D.Fla.) continues to stand aloof from a report in the Miami Herald that the White House has hinted at pressure by Jewish leaders to move him into approving the Panama Canal treaties. An aide to the Senator denied, however, the suggestion of such activity by the Carter Administration and a White House spokesman similarly said the reported action was untrue.
Jean Parvin, of Stone’s staff, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “to my knowledge, the White House has not used this approach in efforts to persuade Senator Stone to vote in favor of the treaties. In fact, the discussion has been so far in low key and pretty amiable. The Jewish aspect has never come into discussion.”
The Miami Herald on Sept. 12 reported that “if the Florida Senator plans to be an effective representative of the Jewish community in the Carter Administration, he will be expected to vote for ratification of the new canal treaty. A not so subtle implication already being picked up by Jewish leaders is that Stone cannot be taken seriously by the White House if he continues to align himself with the Strom Thurmonds of the Senate, a group Stone has seemed comfortable with on a majority of foreign policy issues… The White House is hoping a few whispers in Stone’s ear from American Jewish leaders will make his decision easier.”
Since then, letters from Florida arriving at Stone’s office here have indicated widespread disturbance by the alleged anti-Semitic overtones of the reported tactic to discredit him and concern over the attempt to link him as representing Jewish issues rather than the state of Florida. Some of the letters also urged him not to capitulate to such pressures on his canal views.
Stone, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Middle East, has said he has on open mind on the canal issue although in the past he has opposed giving up U.S. sovereignty in perpetuity over the waterway.