Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
When the self-proclaimed hope of the Republican Party finally got together up in front of the crowd, there were seven of them, at most.
Two or three others had come and gone, and the one whose name on the invitation may have been the best drawing card, California's Sen. S.I. Hayakawa, never showed at all.
They were, as Maryland's Rep. Bob Bauman described the congressional newcomers honored Tuesday night by officers and directors of the Conservative Victory Fund, "card-carrying conservatives," the "nucleus" of whatever is going to happen to the GOP.
They were there in the Rayburn Building committee room, the presumably grateful recipients of $103,000 in congressional campaign funds dispensed last fall by the CVF, political action committee of the American Conservative Union. And they had been selected, of course, on the basis of their conservative political records.
"I've been told that conservatives would rather eat and drink than vote," said Illinois Rep. Phil Crane, ACU board member who, with Bauman and Rep. John Ashbrook of Ohio, welcomed the group.
Vote, maybe, but not talk, especially when it involves the future of the Republican Party.
For Oklahoma's Rep. Mickey Edwards, "people talk of broadening the base (of the GOP) but the real problem is to broaden the base demo-graphically. I talked to a lot of people in the campaign - whites, blacks, laborers, not just the country club set - and found that they were really concerned about the basic issues, food stamps, the Panama Canal . . . Polls show that the public considers itself more conservative."
California's Rep. Robett Badham of Orange County, where former President Nixon is among his constituents, believes the future is good "once Republicans start to articulate - a bad work - rather, tell it like it is."
And Arizona's Rep. Eldon D. Rudd was vowing to "break my back" accomplishing what he called a "one-on-one" campaign to meet each of his 480,000 constituents because "to broaden our base, we have to get to the people more than in the past."
An hour and a half into the party, free alcohol, and anonymity and people still were plentiful, even if the hors d'oeuvres had disappeared without a crumb. "I didn't know there were so many conservatives," remarked one young man in the crowd numbering about 200, admitting to being neither conservative nor Republican.
Noted another wryly, "If all these people are conservative, we should have won."