Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Nobody could remember anything quite like it. Not since Lyndon Johnson, said some, and not even then, said others.
Idaho's Gov. John V. Evans couldn't be sure, having so recently succeeded the present Secretary of the Interior, Cecil Andrus, into the state capitol. But he was mightily impressed with the reception he and his 49 collegues received at the White House earlier in the day.
"Call it a love-in," said Gov. Evans Monday night of President Carter's initial meeting with the nation's governor, his former colleagues. "Governor Carter - President Carter - was most generous. What he was saying to us was that 'We want you to do it on the state level.' This message came across loud and clear."
Evans and his wife were at a buffet reception at the British embassy last night where he and the other governors and their spouses were the honored guest of ambassadors of the European community. Britain's Peter Ramsbotham led off the receiving line composed of the ambassadors from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
France's Ambassador Jacques Kosciusko-Morizet was a co-host in absentia, having flown to Paris vis Concorde earlier in the day for "consultations" with his government, according to Ramsbotham, who added that he was "sorry" that New York's Gov. Hugh Carey had been unable to attend the party. The point was not lost on the crowd, many of whom laughed at Ramsbotham's oblique reference to New York's opposition to landings by the British-French supersonic jetliner.
A year ago at their winter meeting here, the governors had been entertained by the Organization of American States, and OAS Secretary General Alejandro Orfila and Ramsbotham thought at the time that it had been an idea worth repeating. He and the Netherlands' Tammenoms Bakker put their heads together to come up with Monday night's buffet supper focusing on the theme of European unity.
Ramsbotham spoke of the European Community as a united states of Europe and admonished his listeners assembled in the damask and crystal drawing room of the stately embassy residence that "You have to have patience with us."
But it was their meeting with Carter that preoccupied the governors - even Republicans among them. South Carolina's James B. Edwards and Virginia's Mills E. Godwin Jr. both gave Carter "A" for effort at the afternoon session, forgetting momentarily partisan leanings.
As they had been earlier in the White House meeting, Cabinet officers were highly visible Monday night. Agriculture's Bob Bergland, Treasury's W. Michael Blumenthal, Labor's F. Ray Marshall, OMB's Bert Lance and Arttorney General Griffin Bell seemed to continue dialogues begun only a few hours earlier with several of the governors.
Carter informality apparently had already won exponents among the governors including Massachusetts' Michael S. Dukakis and New Mexico's Jerry Apodaca. Somehow or other when they arrived at the embassy they inadvertently checked their coats in the ladies' cloakroom. When they were leaving they found themselves surrounded by governors' wives while their colleagues picked up their coats across the hall in the gentlemen's cloakroom.
"isn't breaking down all the old formalities part of the new-style Carter administration?" Dukakis wryly asked his wife.
"Well, sweetie," Mrs. Dukakis replied. "I'm not sure that visiting the ladies' room is part of that."