FARMINGTON, Conn. -- Former President Gerald Ford suggested Friday that Edwin Meese should withdraw as President Reagan's nominee for attorney general.
Ford, asked about Democratic criticism of Reagan appointees, said he had similar problems during his presidency.
He recalled how Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz offered to resign because of an uproar over a racially derogatory joke he told. Ford accepted the resignation.
'I think that it was the right thing for Earl Butz to do even though I thought he was a first class secretary of agriculture,' Ford said.
'One may infer that you think the same thing should happen with Mr. Meese?' a reporter asked.
'Well, that's a fair inference,' Ford replied.
A special prosecutor is investingating Meese's financial dealings. Senate consideration of his nomination has been put off until the investigation is complete.
Meese failed to list on his federal financial disclosure form a $15,000 interest-free loan made to his wife by a man who later got a government job. Critics called for a full investigation of Meese's finances, noting that a number of people who provided financial help got government jobs.
Critics also want to determine what, if any, role Meese had in obtaining information purloined from Jimmy Carter's 1980 campaign.
Ford was somewhat critical of Reagan appointees in general.
'I think there have been more individuals than I would have liked who have been careless in how they handled certain activities,' he said. 'I don't think anything criminal has been done, but there has been a degree of carelessness which I don't think should be condoned.'
Ford was in Farmington to attend a fund-raiser for Rep. Nancy Johnson, a freshman Republican seeking re-election in the 6th District.