Reprinted from yesterday's late edition.
There were lots of farmers at the White House Thursday's night. But they weren't protesting like those at the Capitol. President Carter came home Thursday after his State of the Union address to find 700 Iowans spread throughout the first floor of the White House and feeling right at home.
It was a party to thank those who had helphed Carter in Iowa in January of 1976 in his two-to one-victory over his closest challenger in Iowa's precinct caucuses. This victory provided much-needed momemtum in the long road to his election.
It was the party for the down-to earth people of Iowa who had held receptions, passed out literature and made phone calls two years ago and they seemed unintimidated by being at the White House. "Are you a Secret Service man?" one woman asked of a stern-looking guard.
The guests were treated to a buffet dinner before two large TV screens, one in the East Room and one in the State Dining Room, began broadcasting the President address. Some loyal supporters watched all the way through but others dimissed it, saying "We can read it in the paper tomorrow." "It was a great speech - what I heard of it," said one man wearing a Carter button.
One group of farmers, including Jim Leach, who farms 800 acres, used the trip to do some lobbying on the Hill that day before coming to the White House.
Most Iowans at the White House still expressed great confidence in the President. "I think he's done as much as he can be expected to do in only a year," said Mary Jane Weisshaar of Creston. "I have a lots of confidence in him."
Many guests received their invitations only a few days ago, "but when you get a chance to go to a White House you just go," said Peggy McCormally, of Burlington (pop. 35,000).
And what to wear? "Rosalynn called on Sunday to check to see that nobody was left off the guest list and she said just wear something comfortable, even a pansuit," said McCormally, who says her husband was the first editor of her hometown's daily paper (The Burlington Hwak Eye) to endorse Carter for the presidency.
It may be the first time when the band played "The Iowa Corn Song" that so many people knew the words.