Lindy Boggs, the Louisiana democrat who has the makings of a contest on her hands for the first time in her congressional career, was, in her own words, well, touched. But then, she confessed with a characteristically lilting giggle, so were her friends.
"Every time I've been here I've been touched by its elegance and history," she said of Georgetown's historic Prospect House to 300 supporters paying $200 each into her campaign coffers last night, "but this is the first time my friends have been touched to be here."
President Carter's campaign chairman Robert Strauss put it another way, also characteristically, addressing the crowd:
"I can only say that if you charged the same amount to get into your house on Bourbon Street," Strauss teased," you'd be arrested."
Actually, there was a little of New Orleans' Vieux Carre about the setting where Boggs, joined by Strauss and House Speaker Thomas "Tip O'Neill, stood on the mansion's ornate iron balcony overlooking the garden. Certainly the turnout by Louisiana's congressional delegation, standing in the garden below much as hopeful Romeos, left little doubt that Boggs was everybody's Juliet, political and otherwise.
Tip O'Neill, who told her all she needed was a veil when he spotted her in her white cotton-and-lace Mexican wedding gown, said that for a few moments he had been afraid Boggs might not seek reelection. Since he didn't know what they'd do without her in Congress, he said "we prevailed upon her to run again."
And run she has, every weekend and then some. Though her polls show her winning 2 1/2-to-1, her son, Washington attorney Tom Boggs said she isn't ignoring the "anti-incumbent feeling in the electorate." In Louisiana's Sept. 13 open primary, she will face fellow Democrat Clyde Bel Jr. and Republican attorney Robert Couhig. No runoff will be necessary if one of the three wins 51 percent of the vote.
Last night, though, it wasn't just Bogg's race that was drawing attention. Yesterday's announcement by Independent candidate John B. Anderson that former Wisconsin governor Patrick Lucey will be his running mate, rated a mixture of amusement and sympathy.
"I got a good laugh out of it," said Bob Strauss.
"I feel sorry for Pat," said Tip O'Neill, adding that everything Lucey had ever got had been through the Democratic Part or powerful allies like John Kennedy. In a fleeting reference to Lucey's consenting to run on the Anderson ticket, O'Neill said Lucey has been "so wrong all along he's been messing up much, but then he's dead anyway" where the party is concerned now.
Rep. Gladys Spellman (D-Md.) said she for one, was "real surprised because all Anderson and Lucey could possible be is spoilers, but maybe that's what Lucey wants to do."
And Liz Carptenter, assistant secretary of education, of course, had the evening's best Pat Lucey joke, resurrecting it from her days as Lady Bird Johnson's White House Staff director in charge of arrangements for Luci Johnson's marriage to Pat Nuggent.
"Pat Lucey was lieutenant governor of Wisconsin then and he wrote us asking if he couldn't be invited to the wedding since he was the only Democratic official with the same name as the bride and groom -- Pat Lucey. We had to tell him we couldn't. We weren't inviting anybody below governor."
Then there was that other polictical twosome, Ronald Reagan and George Bush.
When somebody asked Carpenter what Reagan meant with he told a convention of evangelists in Texas last weekend that if Darwin's theory of evolution is taught in public schools, so should the biblical explanation, Carpenter's jaw dropped in astonishment. It revived memories of the Scopes monkey trial except nobody could think of the defense lawyer's name. That is until Education Secretary Shirley Hufstedler walked up.
Clarence Darrow," she said, and without knowing anything about the preceding conversation, went on to say that "people are surprised to find that history repeats itself -- some people are surprised it's 1980."
Boggs supporters weren't limited to Democratics and a sizable turnout of labor and business lobbyists. A couple of republicans were there, too, like Rep. Millicent FENWICK (R-N.J.) who said "Lindy crosses all lines." Peggy Stanton, with her husband, Rep J. William Stanton (R-Ohio), said that she and boggs once crossed the equator together. s
"My archbiship says nobody can beat her," Stanton continued. "I always listen to my archbishop."