It was a busy Tuesday for Rep. Richard Nolan (D-Minn.). During the day he'd issued a Walter Mondale-for-president call to a group of reporters and last night he issued a Kennedy-for-president call at the area's first Teddy fund-raiser.
No matter that the vice president has made no campaign moves or that Kennedy (D-Mass.) repeats and repeats his mantra of "I do not intend to run"; Nolan, like the 100 or so others at the $25 fund-raiser, wants a Jimmy Carter alternative - now.
"Clearly, the most popular of those alternatives is Kennedy," said Nolan, one of the "Gang of Five" congressmen who want the Massachusetts senator - or at least not Carter - as the Democratic Party's nominee in 1980. "But if Kennedy does decide not to run," Nolan explained, "then Mondale is a good alternative."
But many of the youngish, generally no-name supporters (who sweated over light beer while standing around the African art at Eastern Market's very humid Gallery 5) was die-hard Kennedy supporters from the days of Jack and Bobby. The noncandidate himself did not show, nor did members of his staff who have remained publicly aloof to the clamor for their boss.
Of those who did appear, however, many were dressed a bit Kennedy-esque, in a style that is more or less grownup prepple: khaki suits, red striped shirts and red or blue ties.
"This is the uniform of the opposition," said Mike Serpe; administration aide to Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W. Va.).
Serpe spent most of the fund-raiser standing around talking softball with a bunch of staffers from Rep. Stephen Solarz's (D-N.Y.) Capitol Hill team. Said one staffer of another: "He plays shortstop like Carter plays president - a lot of errors."
Carter's errors and how to get rid of him and them set the tone for the fund-raiser. Nobody talked issues much, or brought up the fact that Kennedy's 2-to-1 lead over the president in the polls is generally from supporters who don't agree with his liberalism. Instead, the mood was straight Teddy - and Teddy all the way.
"He's going to save the party," said John Rivenburgh, who's trying to organize a national clearing house for the growing Draft Kennedy movement.
"Is there anyone else who is logical at this point in history?" added Irving Gordon, another one in on the clearing house attempt.
The gathering was expected to raise about $2,500, which will go toward organizing for the February precinct caucuses in Minnesota. The money certainly didn't go toward the food, which consisted of cheese doodles and potato chips. ("Mo Udall parties at least had cheese," complained administrative aide Serpe. "This is like a fund-raiser for [Cleveland Mayor] Dennis Kucinich.")
But what will happen to the money if Kennedy doesn't run? At least one backer had an answer:
"If he doesn't run," supporter Jim Evans told Nolan, "what we want you to do is get us a good quarterback for the Redskins." CAPTION: Picture, Draft Kennedy organizer Lou Gordon, right, with Rep. Richard Nolan (D-Minn.); by Ken Feil - The Washington Post