WASHINGTON -- Opponents of Kenneth Adelman, President Reagan's choice to be U.S. arms control chief, pledge they will fight the nomination on the Senate floor.
But White House officials count getting the nomination out of committee and to the full Senate as just the first victory in a battle they intend to win.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 14-3 Thursday to send the controversial nomination to the full Senate for a final decision. The nomination came with a recommendation that the Senate defeat it when it takes it up next month.
A motion to send the nomination out with a favorable recommendation failed on a 9-8 vote. Adelman's supporters then agreed to back a motion attaching an unfavorable recommendation, but getting the nomination to the Senate, and it was approved, 14-3.
James Baker, President Reagan's chief of staff, said the committee vote was 'not surprising' and added that the administration 'has an excellent chance ot win it on the Senate floor.'
'The key was getting it to the floor,' he said. 'A week ago there was a question of whether we could get it to the floor.'
Sen. Paul Tsongas, D-Mass., one of Adelman's chief critics, said he will filibuster to block a vote by the full Senate.
Committee Chairman Charles Percy, R-Ill., said Adelman's position as a key arms control official may have been damaged by the protracted committee debate. But he indicated he felt Adelman was qualified for the job.
Percy said he would lead the confirmation fight on the floor. 'No one can guarantee what the Senate of the United States will do,' he said, 'I think there is a good possibility, a good probability (it will pass).'
Reagan nominated Adelman, 36, to be the new director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency last month after firing Eugene Rostow from the post.
But critics said Adelman lacks experience and knowledge in the field of arms control, and the questioned his commitment to arms control efforts.
'I have no doubt I could do a very good job as director of the ACDA,' he said in making his third appearance before the committee.
Adelman said he declined to withdraw his name from consideration despite the controversy he generated, because the president and Secretary of State George Shultz 'have a great deal of confidence in me.'
The nominee appeared confident and relaxed as he fielded questions from the senators in the packed committee room for one hour and 40 minutes.
Earlier, the committee heard testimony from New York Daily News reporter Ken Auletta, who said he accurately quoted Adelman in a 1981 news story as saying arms control efforts are 'a sham' and should be undertaken only to placate the U.S. public and European allies.
Adelman said he did not recall the interview nor making the remarks attributed to him.
Auletta gave the committee copies of the notes he took during his 25-minute telephone interview with Adelman.
'The notes I have accurately reflect what Mr. Adelman said to me on May 20, 1981,' Auletta said. He said he had met and talked with Adelman on previous occasions and the reported comments 'reflected his views.'
Some of the comments recorded in Auletta's notes indicate Adelman said he favored arms reductions, but Auletta said the 'entire thrust' of the interview was that Adelman would enter negotiations 'for political purposes.'
'I am confident that having been exposed to his views (previously) that the views expressed in this May 20 interview are consistent,' Auletta said.
Sen. Charles Mathias, R-Md., a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said today on NBC's 'Today' show, the ACDA director is the chief administration adviser on all arms control matters and 'ought to be the leading edge, the chief advocate for arms control in our government. And that really is where I think the doubts about Mr. Adelman arise: not about his intelligence or his competence, but does he have this commitment.'
'He's said he's for reductions, but that does not mean he's for an ongoing, successful arms control program,' Mathias added.
Another committee member, Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, R-Minn, said on the same program Adelman has at least as much and perhaps more background in arms issues as Rostow, and added he believes Adelman wants arms reducations.
Senate approval of Adelman, added Boschwitz, is 'still an open question.' Mathias said the floor discussions would turn into a 'full-scale debate on arms control.'