Ten GOP senators, one Cabinet member and a senior presidential adviser last night joined 70 other guests at $1,000-a-ticket fund-raiser for Sen. Samuel I. Hayakawa's (R-Calif.) reelection campaign. No one seemed to be particulary concerned that the president's daughter is in the same race.
But then, you couldn't exactly say that everyone roaming around Gilbert and Gerry Nettleton's elegant oyster-white penthouse apartment was overwhelmingly endorsing Hayakawa, either.
"It doesn't mean a thing," said Attorney General William French Smith, when asked why he was at the reception, co-hosted by Sens. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.) and Howard Baker (R-Tenn.), along with the Nettletons.
Edging out the door, Smith said, "I've known the senator Hayakawa and the Nettletons for a long time, and I only dropped by for a minute as a friend. I'm here on a purely social basis." The social visit lasted approximately seven minutes.
"Sam is the Republican senator from California, that's why I'm here," said White House deputy chief of staff Michael Deaver. It was "not at all" because Deaver is endorsing Hayakawa. "Sam has been very supportive of the president."
"It's generally customary for a senator to lend his name for a fund-raiser for one of his colleagues, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's going to take an active part in the campaign," drawled Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) between bites of salmon. "We'll just have to see . . ."
Hayakawa has a rough year of campaigning ahead and last night's $30,000 boost to the campaign coffers will buy about one television ad in California. So far, there are at least six people in the primary race, including Maureen Reagan, Rep. Barry Goldwater Jr. (R-Calif.), San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson and Rep. Pete McCloskey (R-Calif.). On the Democratic side, Gov. Jerry Brown is also flirting with the race. Recent polls show Hayakawa trailing.
"Those polls don't mean a thing," said Gerry Nettleton, Hayakawa's fund-raiser. "People in California are very flaky. You just never know how they're going to vote," she said. Gerry Nettleton moved here from California six years ago.
And if the 75-year-old Hayakawa is at all worried, he wasn't letting on last night.
"They're all stubborn enough not to drop out of the race, and the more people in there the better it is for me," said Hayakawa, sporting his familiar red, gold and blue tam. "With all those people in the race, they'll split the vote and I'll win.
"I also have a 98-percent name recognition in the state. None of the other people do . . . except Maureen Reagan and that's not in her own right," he said, rolling his eyes. And that's all he'd say about his opponent.
"She's a heck of a campaigner and a very bright and talented girl," said Laxalt of the president's daughter. Laxalt, often referred to as the president's best friend in the Senate, said he is supporting "Sam." "I told Maureen that just the other day," he said. "She asked me, so I told her. She expected it."
"Quite frankly," said Alan Hayakawa, the senator's son, "she's sounding more and more liberal these days. I'm not so sure the administration is too happy with her out there esposuing views to the left of Ronald Reagan."