Like anyone else planning to move to Washington, Nancy Reagan came to town to meet a few of the "natives" yesterday, then set off on a house hunt for a place to tide her and her husband over until something a little more permanent opens up.
The "natives" were 100 or more political wives who had been invited to brunch by two Senate wives, Antoinette Hatifield and Carol Laxalt; and by Nancy Clark Reynolds, a vice president of the Bendix Corp. who was Nancy Reagan's press secretary when Ronald Reagan was the governor of California. r
The hostesses invited Democratic as well as Republican Senate wives but limited their guests from the House side to Republicans. "Not everybody here is for Reagan," noted Frances Symms of Idaho. "If they aren't, they soon will be," replied Nancy Schulze of Pennsylvania.
Most of the guests arrived at the party, held in the Georgetown home of Oregon Republican Sen. Mark Hatfield, before the guest of honor. When she got there, she looked relaxed and unruffled in her blue and green silk Adolfo dress with its coordinated sweater.
After a turn through the crowd and a session with protographers in the garden, she retreated to the den, where she nibbled on cantaloupe slices, sipped apple juice and autographed copies of her recently published autobiography, "nancy."
Reagan's dialogue with reporters was kept at a minimum until the end of the party, when an informal press conference was held. Questions were scattershot, ranging from the Reagans' brand of conservatism to where they stood on women's issues and abortion.
She said that her husband hasn't yet chosen his running mate but that she thinks it should be "somebody he can work with easily, somebody with whom he's compatible ideologically." When someone suggested that Reagan might be most comfortable with Rep. Jack Kemp (r-n.y.) but that such a ticket might not have wide enough voter appeal and that someone less conservative might be more beneficial, Nancy Reagan replied hat "it would depend on how less conservative."
She said that as first lady, she would continue her work with the foster grandparents program but that in addition she hoped to get involved in drug prevention. "When you pick up the paper and read that 5-year-olds are involved with heroin, I think there's got to be something wrong."
She said she didn't think she was extravagant in her clothing preferences and denied that she spent several thousand dollars recently on jewelry. "I'm not wearing a Dior or a Geoffrey Beene or a Mary Mcfadden," she said of designers whose pricetags, like Adolf's, start at $900 and go up for a simple afternoon dress.
"The joke in our family is that I hold onto everything for years. My husband says I still have my gym bloomers, which I probably do," she said defensively.
When presed on the abortion issue, she said she would not advise her daughter to get an abortion if she were 18, unmarried and pregnant. If she were 12? somebody asked. "Yes, if she were 12."
For Democrats in the crowd, being seen in the Reagan camp didn't mean changing allegiances in midstream. One Democratic wife said she had come because she likes meeting everybody. "We're in so bad with the Carters right now that one more thing isn't going to matter."
A Democrat who was helping out at the party was Ann Hand, whose husband, Lloyd, was Lyndon Johnson's chief of protocol. "Both Reagans did an exceptional job when he was governor of California -- we lived there for 18 years and he was our governor. Both Lloyd and I really like them a lot -- if you liked Eisenhoweer, you'll like Reagan," Hand said.
Other Democrats there included the wives of senators Henry Jackson of Washington, Edward Zorinsky of Nebraska, Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, Dennis Deconcini of Arizona and Russell Long of Louisiana. Republicans included the wives of senators William S Cohen of Maine, Robert Dole of Kansas, David Durenberger of Minnesota, Orrin Hatch of Utah, James Mcclure of Idaho, Bob Packwood of Oregon, Charles Percy of Illinois and Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.
Opportunities to get better acquainted with the new arrival in town were disappointing for at least one Republican wife. When she complained that it was difficult to talk to Nancy Reagon because she seemed to be tucked away in a remote corner, one of the hostesses looked stricken. She urged the woman to go right up and start talking. But when the woman finally got there, there was only time left for a quick goodbye.