Last week, Jimmy Carter's son whistle-stopped across an 85-mile stretch of New York state at the side of Gov. Hugh Carey. His father and mother and grandmother have been up there campaigning, too. Hugh Carey, not Jerry Brown,is the best governor in the country, thinks Chip Carter. Of Brown, he says: "We've spent some time together, yes. We have a few major areas of disagreement-like who should be president." Short, perfect pause. "I think every man's got a right to run for president. We'll beat him."
Today, Saturday, the presidential stand-in is appearing in Tampa on behalf of state senator Bob Graham, a real estate developer and the Democratic gubernatiorial candidate. Graham, running against drugstore magnate Jack Eckerd, is a smooth, tanned, Harvard-trained lawyer whose campaign has turned on his promise to work 100 blue-collar jobs before the election "to hear the people's concerns." Running well in the polls. Graham probably doesn't need Washington glitter. (Carter's appearance is not announced ahead of time, partly for security reasons.) But every little bit helps.
Graham's Hillsborough County headquarters are over a dugstore on the edge of downtown. The neighborhood is gamy. The plain is for Graham and Carter to meet here, shake hands with some party workers, them motor to a spaghetti picnic and rally in Lowry Park.
At littke after 12.30 p.m., Chip arrives in a cream-white Buick Electra. He is escorted by squad cars. Ahead and behind the Secret Service. Inside the drugstore, under lazily turning ceiling fans, people are having lunch at the counter. "Who in hell is that?" asks a citizen of the night with a two-day growth on his face. He doesn't get up.
Carter is wearing a baggy beige sport coat, dark flared slacks, a tie with tiny umbrellas on it. He has on ankle-high zip-up boots. He gets out of the car quickly, as if embarrassed by all the fuss. Upstairs, he draws a smoke, leans against a wall small-talking. Once, he breaks into a shoulder-shaking guffaw. This could be in Plains.
Graham arrives. The two have not met this campaign.
"Now Chip, how are old are you?"
"And which brother is in Calhoun?"
"And how old is he?"
Chip seems a little disappointed at how this is going. Graham, talking loudly, stops before a little black girl named Eureka Johnson. Eurka is 6. She is in pigtails and terrycloth sunsuit.
"Do you know who this fellow is?"says Graham.
No, he's Army Carter's brother."
"I've been introduced this way before," says Chip.
There is more to do in Lowry Park. Chip's father campaign here three times in 76, Chip himself stopped twice. A couple of thousand people mill about this afternoon in the sand under moss-dripped trees. A fiddle band on the back of a truck plays "Rollin' in the My Sweet Baby's Arms." Graham is coatless. T-shirts proclaim: I'M A GRAHAM CRACKER BACKER. There are acres of polyester. It feels like the 4th of July.
Fire Chief Griffin comes up: he got to know Chip in the presidential campaign. "Hiya, Chipper," he says, throwing his arms around him. A grizzled man comes over. "I'm from Sumter County, Florida. and you're from Sumter County, Georgia. Ivoted for your daddy." Chip tells him to vote Graham.
He stays about an hour. On the way to the airport, his tie loosened, he says, "Frankly, I think I can be more effective with a congressman's campaign." He seems distracted. "I don't think an endorsement by me will necessarily help. You don't know if you've made a difference.