He patted her belly, she giggled and everybody around the piano serenaded her, appropriately enough, with the same song Andy Williams sang at their wedding last March: "Just the Way You Are."

He is Kentucky's millionaire Gov. John Y. Brown Jr., she is the former Phyllis "Miss America" George, and together last night, besides preparing the world for their next role as parents, they were giving Washington a glimpse of how the new politics is played back in their old Kentucky home.

"Isn't she purty?" Brown would ask, propelling the 150-plus guests into handshaking range of his "Phyl," who would say she wished everybody could touch her stomach. "I feel so healthy."

They took over The Fairfax Hotel on the eve of the winter meeting of the National Governors Conference, which Brown is attending for the first time as governor.

And they did attract the governors of Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina and Puerto Rico. But Kentuckians probably outnumbered the rest of the crowd by 2-1, for not only were Kentucky's Sen. Wendell Ford and Rep. Carroll Hubbard Jr., (both Democrats) there but so were two former Senators, John Sherman Cooper and Marlo Cook: what looked like half of brown's cabinet, and such former Kentuckians as Bess Abell and Fred Vinson Jr.

There were crocuses in tiny white pots scattered around, a southern buffet of biscuits, ham and pecan pie and plenty of Kentucky bourbon. And helping light the candles before anybody arrived was none other than Kentucky's Secretary of Finance, George Atkins, who might have been the governor if Brown hadn't defeated him.

"A dubious distinction, since we don't have any money in Kentucky," said Atkins of his title, going on to describe a $138 million deficit that Brown's administration "inherited." What's more, Atkins continued, "this fiscal year we'll spend $56 million more than we take in, another problem with inherited."

Kentucky officials did their best to keep the state's financial woes from ruining the evening. When a reporter asked who was picking up last night's tab, Commissioner of Public Information Lois Mateus replied that "it's my understanding it's an official state function."

Brown later confirmed it. And Finance Secretary Atkins, laughing, explained: "We let everybody in free, but we charge them to get out."

They didn't, of course.

Brown said that he hasn't worried "a single day" since he's been in the state house.

"I feel comfortable doing the job -- it's the first time I've used my mind in 10 years."

Attorney J. D. Williams of Washington said Brown doesn't get much credit for it, but his business knowhow went a long way in 1972 toward helping bail the Democratic Party out of its financial quagmire.

"Not since Matt McCloskey, treasurer of the party, invented the $100-a-plate dinner back in 1936 has anybody been so innovative. It was John Brown who came up with the idea of letting people use their credit cards to pledge money to the party," said Williams.

Brown said he hasn't yet decided whom he will endorse as the party's presidential candidate -- "but I'm closer than I've been." While "close" to the Kennedys (Phyllis is national chairman of the Special Olympics), he's also gotten to know Jimmy Carter. Fact is, he said, he and Phyllis were houseguests at the White House a couple of months ago.

"I told a friend of mine, 'Would you think a year ago that John Brown would sleep in the Lincoln Room in the White House as governor of Kentucky with a former Miss America and about to become a father?'"

Jimmy Carter's campaign chairman, Robert Strauss, showed up briefly expressing cautious hope for a New Hampshire primary win this week. And another Carter-Mondale official, Tim Smith, voiced similar cautious optimism.

Virginia's Lt. Gov. Charles S. Robb, who endorsed Carter last fall (he had prepared his McLean, Va., neighbor Sen. Ted Kennedy for it last July), thought George Bush may have damaged his chances over the weekend when he refused to debate everybody except Ronald Reagan.

But if the people were playing it close to the vest, at least one was playing it close to the piano. Congressional liaison Frank Moore was leading a roll call of state songs that began with "My Old Kentucky Home" and went right on through "Mississippi Mud" and "Chattanooga Choo-choo."

Said socialite Buffy Cafritz: "Frank looks like he's already got the New Hampshire results."