Some of them were all the president's men, some of them were going to be. All of them were Republicans put back together again last night by that patron saint of the Grand Old Party, Chicago insurance executive W. Clement Stone.
"Keep in mind," cautioned Stone standing in the doorway of The Georgetown Club as he welcomed some 250 guests to one of the first big pre-inaugural parties of the weekend, "we Republicans have been together a long time."
Some of them longer than others, to be sure, since several could trace their links back to the Nixon White House. Take, for example, the early arrivals of a few Watergate figures. No sooner had Richard Nixon's former chief of staff (Ronald Reagan's secretary of state-designate) Gen. Alexander Haig Jr., turned up than Nixon's former at torney general John Mitchell walked in followed by Nixon's former White House counsel Richard Moore. Haig, professing gratitude for the way the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings had worked out, didn't linger over hellos.
On the other, Mitchell, accompanied by his daughter Marty and Moore, wasted no time getting into a huddle with three other ex-Nixon aides, former appointments secretary Dwight Chapin, former presidential assistant Fred Malek and former military aide Jack Brennan.
"Are you all right?" Michell asked Chapin.
"I'm fine -- why shouldn't I be?" replied Chapin, suntanned and prosperous-looking, now publisher of Success, a W. Clement Stone magazine dealing with "attitudinal motivation."
The reunion didn't end with them. Next came Nixon son-in-law Edward Cox, Nixon's new chief of staff Nick Ruwe and his wife, Nancy, former Nixon secretary of defense Melvin Laird and Nixon appointee Chief Justice Warren Burger. Not present or even expected throughout the inaugural festivities was Nixon himself because "wherever he goes he just creates controversy," said Brennan, now in partnership with John Mitchell in an international trading company called Global Research International.
The Reaganites in the crowd, of course, far outnumbered the Nixonites. They included Cabinet designees Drew Lewis, James Edwards and Richard Schweiker and White House counsel-to-be Edwin Meese, chief of staff James Baker and press secretary James Brady.
Host Stone, a longtime Nixon supporter who turned to Ford over Reagan in 1976, told why he is now an avid Reagan man. "He is very pragmatic. His great strength is attracting individuals of great expertise and ability who are also pragmatists," said Stone.
A couple of them from Reagan's so-called "closet cabinet," Justin Dart of Dart Industries (which includes Tupperware) and Alfred Bloomingdale, founder of The Diner's Club, joined the jubilant throng. Bloomingdale said he and his wife, Betsy, probably would be renting an apartment at the Watergate before too long but that he expected to have "no permanent job" even though he noted there are 1,800 commissions with slots to fill.
Ronald Reagan's first order of business, said Bloomingdale, will be to do something about the national debt which is somewhere in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars. "When my brother and I were kids, we used to play cards and lose a trillion dollars, but who even knows how to write it?"
The Bloomingdales, with New York real estate investor Jerome Zipkin, said they had dropped in on the Reagans at Blair House earlier and found them "very calm and relaxed." No night on the town for them, however. "They were going to go to bed."
Among the Reagans' Hollywood pals starting to arrive were Audrey Meadows and her husband, Robert Six, chairman of the board of Continental Airlines. "If I'm excited, how can Ronnie and Nancy stand it?" said Meadows.
As for what you call an old friend who's going to become president of the United States, Meadows said the subject came up just the other day.
"I said to him 'Oh, my god, Ron, I have to start rehearsing to call you Mr. President. And he said, 'Oh, not when it's just us.'"
She said Reagan also told her that if she knew of anyone planning to send him or Nancy food or wine to ask them to deliver it themselves because otherwise they'd never get it. "Better still, we'll come and pick up ourselves," he told her.