Two young uninvited guests would have been welcome after all Tuesday night at a black-tie dinner for the nation's governors given by President and Mrs. Carter, a White House spokesperson said yesterday.
Jamie Moore, 9, and Melissa "Missy" Moore, 12, of Columbus, Ohio, arrived at the White House with their grandfather, Ohio Gov. James Rhodes, only to be turned away by a member of the White House social staff.
Wednesday, President Carter himself telephoned his apologies to Rhodes, a Republican.
"The President was very gracious to call," an aide to Rhodes said yesterday by telephone from Columbus. "The Governor told me the incident was not a source of great concern to him."
Rhodes, described as "a great family man," brought Jamie and Missy to Washington with him for the midwinter governors' conference when Mrs. Rhodes, in ill health, decided to remain in Florida.
"We have an energy problem in Ohio and industries and schools have been shut down, so since the children were out of school the governor decided to take them to Washington," said Press Secretary Bill Houser. "He just naturally assumed that he could bring them to dinner at the White House."
When they arrived at the mansion's Diplomatic Entrance, however, a White House staffer made a "snap decision" that they could not attend, according to Rosalynn Carter's press secretary Mary Hoyt.
Calling it "an unfortunate incident," Hoyt said she and White House Social Secretary Gretchen Poston attempted several times to reach Rhodes at his hotel but were unsuccessful.
When President and Mrs. Carter were informed later that evening they were "very distressed," said Hoyt.