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Potential Interns for U.S. Rep Take Conservative Litmus Test

March 22, 1985

DALLAS (AP) _ Besides having to provide the usual writing samples, resumes and grade- point averages, would-be interns for U.S. Rep. Richard Armey face a test to determine whether their philosophy is conservative.

″There are no wrong or right answers,″ said Dennis Calabrese, administrative assistant to the freshman congressman.

But he added, ″Dick Armey is a conservative, the staff is conservative, and they (applicants) need to feel comfortable working in this environment.

″If they’re very, very liberal, then they probably wouldn’t be happy working on the conservative side,″ Calabrese said.

A detailed questionnaire for applicants checks views on the role of government, school prayer, Japanese imports, the minimum wage and other issues. It’s designed to determine whether applicants have ″an understanding of what those issues are″ rather than to test their philosophies, he said.

An informal survey shows Armey, a Republican, is the only member of the Texas delegation who requires such a test of prospective interns, hired for tasks such as opening the mail and to get a glimpse into how Washington works.

Democratic Sen. Lloyd Bentsen doesn’t even ask what party applicants belong to, a Bentsen aide said.

Randy White, an administrative assistant for Rep. John Bryant said he had never heard of such a test for interns.

″We’re not here to stamp our ideology on someone and send them out to be a foot soldier for us,″ White said.

The questionnaire asks applicants whether they agree, disagree or have no opinion on whether ″the federal government needs to do more for people than it is doing now,″ and if the ″federal minimum wage law should be abolished.″

It asks if ″the use of military force is only justifiable when your homeland is attacked,″ and if ″the Constitution prevents interaction between the Church and state, thus disallowing prayer in school.″

Applicants are also asked to write two paragraphs on the topic ″What should government do for people?″

The Armey test for interns pales in comparison to the questionnaire that Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, gives applicants for staff positions.

They’re asked about their positions on abortion, gun control, mining of Nicaraguan harbors, the death penalty, the gold standard, school prayer, recognition of the PLO, the Chrysler bailout, Arab-Israeli relations and whether homosexuals should be allowed to teach in public schools.

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