Richard Richards, a former Utahn and a senior adviser in the Bush/Quayle campaign, says he doesn't want a post in a George Bush White House or Cabinet - but wouldn't mind being "something like an ambassador."
He said he also will use what pull he has with the campaign to ask that Ronald Reagan consider a brief stop in Utah during a campaign trip to California before the election to help Republican Gov. Norm Bangerter in his tough race for re-election.He made the comments during a Deseret News interview in response to recent rumors at Utah congressional offices that Bush is considering Richards as a possible Interior secretary.
Richards, an Ogden native who is now a Washington attorney and lobbyist, said the main reason he doesn't want to work in the White House is that press scrutiny of people there is severe and almost unbearable, even if they've done nothing wrong.
He said he had a taste of that when he was the Republican National Committee chairman in 1981-82, and was hounded about a controversial Small Business Administration loan that government inspectors said was proper. Work as an ambassador would be less in the press limelight than White House work.
"Since (reporters Bob) Woodward and (Carl) Bernstein wrote their book about Watergate, the press thinks the way to make a name for itself is to bring down someone big," he said.
Richards' chance at a cabinet post or ambassador position has been rumored because of his work for Bush, and his friendship with him. Bush and Richards are both former national party chairmen.
Richards is working this year as a volunteer "senior adviser" to Bush's campaign - having also worked in the past as a Western regional coordinator in campaigns for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
"That means I'm not a line official in the campaign this year. No one reports to me. But when I see something that needs to be done, I do it."
Richards gives scrutiny to the campaign and makes suggestions on how to improve it. He also helped organize the campaign in many Western states.
"About eight months ago, George called and asked for help in organizing the West. So I went out and helped, gave talks to motivate people and so forth. Lately, I've been going out and beating them up to do their jobs. Too many don't do the grassroots work they should anymore."
Such work has led to many meetings to discuss strategy with Bush or his managers. But Richards said he has not tried to use that access to seek a job in a Bush administration. But he does use the access to try to help the West.
"I try to see that the campaign allocates sufficient resources to the West," he said, noting most of Bush's closest advisers are from the South and Northeast - so he wants to ensure the West is not overlooked.
Because of such concerns, he will ask that Reagan have a brief stopover in Utah to help Republican candidates. He said little chance existed that Bush himself could stop because he needs to spend more time in states where the race is closer. "He should carry 70 percent of the vote in Utah. That's the biggest help he can give local Republicans."
Even if Richards' work and friendship with Bush led to an offer of a White House job, he listed several reasons he would rather not take it.
"The White House is a snakepit. You can't be the last one in in the morning, or the first to leave. It's very competitive. I don't want to work quite that hard anymore." He said he is also busy with an LDS Church calling as a bishop and has a good job he really doesn't want to leave.
But the main reason he wants to avoid the White House is that he doesn't like the way the press treats people there, or other top presidential appointees.
"Look at what they did to Robert Bork (an unsuccessful nominee for the Supreme Court). They dragged him through the mud, and he did nothing wrong. Many good people don't want to serve in government because they don't want to go through that."
For such reasons, he said, if he served in a Bush administration, he would like to serve as an ambassador _ an important, fun job away from daily press scrutiny. Areas he would like to serve include Japan, the Far East and Mexico _ areas to which he has traveled as part of his lobbying business.
He said he already had the chance to serve in the Reagan administration, but turned it down. "The president offered me the undersecretary job at the Department of Interior (under James Watt) when I left the national committee. Ironically, if I had taken it, I probably would have become the secretary of interior when Watt left.
"But I had essentially been working as a volunteer for the president for six years, and I told him I had to go and make some money."