"Today," shouted Rep. John Burton (D-Calif.) above the screams of the youthful, "is the first day of the rest of the campaign."
Burton, in suit and tie, was standing on a stage at the side of the converted Cadillac garage that is the Kennedy headquarters in Washington. Before him, in jeans and sweaters, with index fingers pointing victoriously upwards for the benefit of the TV cameras, were the Kennedy faithful: volunteer workers, college students and housewives who flooded into the headquarters after hearing early bulletins of the Kennedy victories in New York and Connecticut.
There, too, was Toby Moffett himself from Connecticut, and a representative to boot, who proclaimed: "The good news is more than an individual who has carried on one of the most courageous political campaigns in American history.
"The good news," he cried, "is that the Democratic Party has a soul after all."
The 22nd Street headquarters burbled over last night with tears and Schlitz as Ted Kennedy, finally, raised some squealing supporters from political gloom.
"I've never felt so good in all my 17 years," said Pam Harris, a Whitman High School student from Bethesda. "It's impossible to explain. It's so wonderful. It's an adjustment for me to make, because people went into this tonight expecting to lose. People were looking for other jobs. But now, everyone's planning to go the other way."
Offsetting her teen-age bliss was Vince Wolfington, a local businessman who had a more businesslike assessment of Kennedy's wins.
"All the pros have been saying, 'I'll support him when he wins.' Well, all the bull ---- artists are going to be jumping on the bandwagon."
It was a far cry from the scene in the garage last Tuesday, when only about 10 people showed up to watch Jimmy Carter submerge their candidate in Illinois. But last night there was, at least, some hope, as last-minute polls showed Kennedy gaining on Carter.
A couple hundred young Kennedy supporters had gathered to watch the television returns that put at least one of them, as he described it, into a "state of shock." Everyone drank healthy quantities of beer, ate sandwiches and cheered lustily in the hugh garage that is dingy and decidedly unglamorous. a
But absolutely nobody cared, especially by 11:45 p.m., when Walter Cronkite referred to the Massachusettes senator as "President Kennedy."
"He said, 'President Kennedy'!" cried Roger Neely, yet another joyous supporter. "I feet good. Damn good."
Supporters wore blue "Kennedy '80" hats and, generally, denim. The main party activities consisted of drinking, or drinking while standing around watching two television sets stuck over on one side of the garage.
"Carter concedes" was scrawled across a giant scoreboard.
In a cluster of small offices adjoining the garage, behind a door marked "No entry," were the hardcore workers, applauding and screaming mightily at the TV cameras perched on the cheap office furniture. A bottle of Villa Banfi Bordelino, vintage 1975, sat alongside a dying plant on a filing cabinet and vibrated to the booming voice of Cronkite.
On the outside of the door, stenciled in black letters, were the words: "Insurance and settlement." And just underneath:
"Caution -- Step Up."