Politics : Regan’s Fish Story May Be Interesting Reading for Wieder

Orange County Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder, who has had her own problems recently in the 42nd Congressional District race, should at least get a good laugh from former White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan’s controversial new book.

One of Wieder’s opponents, former White House advance man Andrew Littlefair, who used to work for Regan, is mentioned in the book, “For the Record.” Regan recounts how President Reagan accidentally killed the goldfish he “conscientiously” was feeding at the request of the son of Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, in whose home the President and his wife, Nancy, stayed during the 1985 Geneva summit.

Said Regan in the book: “I’ve got a problem, the President said, showing me the small dead creature. The fish died.”

Regan said Littlefair’s supervisor, Bill Henkel, was summoned and told “to get another fish for that boy.”

Regan said that as he and the President set off for a meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, Henkel sent Littlefair “to find two replacements for the deceased goldfish. Littlefair succeeded. . . . “

Bob Wolfe, Littlefair’s campaign director, said Regan’s account of the dead fish incident “was not all that accurate.”

“He did not physically go to get the goldfish,” Wolfe said of Littlefair. “He had staff people who did that.”

However, Wolfe conceded that he could hear front-runner Wieder, who has previously referred to Littlefair as someone who “sharpened pencils for the President,” adding to her campaign trail repertoire that Littlefair “got goldfish for the President.”

Littlefair was in Washington on Wednesday, where he said he met for a few minutes with Regan, whose book offers a portrayal of Nancy Reagan as a conniving wife who manipulated the President and determined his schedule after consulting with an astrologer.

Littlefair, who has claimed Regan as one of his primary backers and who collected $500 from him for his campaign, said he told Regan that “the kiss-and-tell books are not helpful to the President.” He said Regan “didn’t say anything” in response. Littlefair said, however, that he did not intend to disavow Regan as another candidate, Dana Rohrabacher, has urged.

Nathan Rosenberg, a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 40th Congressional District, readily admits that a new 80-page tome about his life and political views won’t win any book-of-the-month-club awards.

But the Newport Beach businessman is gambling $30,000–the cost to write, produce and mail nearly 100,000 copies of the booklet–that it will win votes in the hotly contested June 7 primary.

Rosenberg, a leading contender in the 12-candidate GOP field, said he wrote most of the book, which chronicles his life and outlines his positions on the budget deficit, Social Security, drugs and other issues. He said the book is an attempt to spread his message directly to voters.

“It is a departure from traditional campaigning, the candidate who locks himself in a room . . . and never makes contact with voters,” Rosenberg said Thursday outside a Santa Ana post office, where the booklets were mailed. “This is a statement that political dialogue counts.”

Rosenberg, wearing a dress shirt and tie, talked to reporters as he sat atop a sack of booklets in the back of the delivery truck, which was parked at a busy intersection. The scene prompted numerous motorists to slow and stare, including one Santa Ana patrolman who stopped to inquire what was going on.

A campaign would not be complete without allegations of sign rustling, and the spirited race in the 40th Congressional District promises to be anything but incomplete.

Several candidates, most notably Republicans Adam Kiernik and Peer Swan, have reported that hundreds of their signs have been torn down in the last week, and they are blaming Rosenberg supporters.

Greg Hummel, an executive with a Covina-based graphics company that specializes in outdoor political advertising, said one of his employees spotted a man replacing Swan and Kiernik signs with Rosenberg’s this week. Swan and Kiernik hired Hummel’s company, Candidates Outdoor Graphic Services, to manufacture and post their signs.

Rosenberg denied the allegation, and said that he has instructed his staff from the outset of the campaign not to touch other candidates’ signs.

Swan and Kiernik, given no better than outside chances in the GOP primary, said the loss of signs was a serious blow because of their small campaign budgets. Swan, a Tustin business executive, said it will cost about $6,000 to replace the 1,300 signs he estimated he has lost in the last week. Swan has raised about $50,000 and Kiernik $28,000 in a race in which the winner may spend more than $500,000.

“To a little guy like me, this is devastating,” said Kiernik, a Huntington Beach businessman. “I hope they catch the guy and nail him to a telephone pole.”

Not known for his sense of humor on the campaign trail, attorney C. Christopher Cox is counting on a former Soviet comedian to inject laughter–and dollars–into his run for the GOP nomination in the 40th Congressional District. Cox, a serious, tight-lipped campaigner who has spent much of the race courting the far right, has lined up comic Yakov Smirnoff to do a benefit for his candidacy Monday in Dana Point.

The event will be at Luciana restaurant, 24312 del Prado. There is a 7 p.m. reception for Cox, followed by dinner and then Smirnoff, a Russian emigre who became a U.S. citizen two years ago. Cost per person is $200. A Cox campaign aide said that Smirnoff, a friend of Cox, is donating his time. Reservations can be made by calling (714) 661-6500.

Bruce Herschensohn, a conservative radio commentator and former GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate in California, will appear May 23 at a fund-raiser for Irvine Councilman C. David Baker, a Republican candidate in the 40th Congressional District. The $100-per-person event in Irvine marks Herschensohn’s first appearance on behalf of a candidate in the race to replace retiring Rep. Robert E. Badham of Newport Beach. Reservations can be made by calling (714) 857-0303.

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