OK, I will try to answer your actual questions and then tell you how to do it better.
Comd/Ctrl-Shift-Tab opens the Tab panel.
Tab to get into the X position field. Enter the tab coordinate. Tab to the Leader field. Enter the leader character. Type Cmd/Ctrl-Shift-Tab to close the panel.
But this will only let you enter a single tab stop.
The better way to do this is to create a paragraph style with the tabs and leaders in position. Apply a keystroke for style
Cmd/Ctrl-Arrow keys to select the text you want to have applied with the tabs.
Select the text you want to apply the style to.
Press the keystroke for the style.
Also, investigate the QuickApply feature.
Sandee thanks so much for your reply. I don't think I could use a Style, becuase while I sited one example, I have to do this over and over with text boxes of varied sizes, where the tabs are always at different measurements. I am not familiar with the QuickApply at all, so will look at that. Ideally, I would like to cut/paste text into an existing text box, and then easily apply the tab setting to the entire box, based on the first line of text (using the keyboard, not the mouse).. thanks again for any help or tips you can provide.
Yes, you've got a problem that styles can't handle because your tabs are at different positions.
Is there any chance that once you apply the first tab stop, that the others repeat for the same amount of space?
If so, I have a suggestion.
Unfortunately, the tabs do not repeat at the same increments. Perhaps this will be helpful... In QuarkXpress, I would bring up the tabs dialog box, enter in any number in the tab setting, then backspace and apply. It would then 'trick' it into applying the tabs from the first line. Wonder if there isn't some way to replicate the same idea in inDesign?