There might have been a better way to spend a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, but more than a thousand Anderson supporters filled the Regency Room at the Shoreham Americana, paid $50 each to sip wine, cheer for their candidate and laugh with comedian Mark Russell.
There was a brief introduction by former Massachusetts Sen. Edward Brooke, who said, "The people will come out in droves to elect John Anderson president of the United States." The Republican candidate, following a tight schedule, flew in Sunday morning from his campaign in Illinois, had brunch at a Georgetown home and was scheduled to leave at 4 p.m., only now on his own 727.
Looking relaxed among his backers from D.C., Maryland and Virginia, he said, "This is the first day in six weeks that I have been back to Washington. What a beautiful spring day."
Anderson described a "truly emotional" experience he had the day before at his alma mater, the University of Illinois, when thousands of students filled the hall to listen and cheer him on.
He talked about the younger people he had been speaking to in New England and the excitement of their involvement in politics.
A longtime friend of Russell's, Anderson was eager to turn the mike over and said, "I planned on doing my usual routine, but Mark has exclusive rights to be the resident comedian at the Shoreham."
Staring out at the crowded ballroom, Russell then turned to Anderson and said, "Thank you John Anderson. Can I call you Jack? No, I better not.
Putting on an Arab headdress, he told Anderson he was really with the FBI and reminded Anderson of a line Anderson once used, saying, "As long as I have clean laundry, I will run," as he presented the candidate with a huge brown wrapped package of fresh laundry.
"Carter said if it wasn't for Kennedy, the hostages would be out by now. Well if it weren't for the hostages, Carter would be out by now," he added.
Of Kennedy's speech at Harvard he said, "He had it written on his sleeve for old times' sake."
On race relations Russell said, "Carter thinks 'shalom' is an event in Winter Olympics," and "Things were so bad for a while that Sammy Davis Jr. couldn't eat with himself."
Filling the room with his musical parodies sprinkled with one-liners, he suggested that Bush retire to the home for chronic preppies.
"Three Mile Island wouldn't have happened if Truman were president.He would have dropped Pennsylvania on China."