Every third guest is from Tennessee, carrying a camera -- Instamatic or otherwise. Aside from the president, the familiar faces seemed to be Pat Boone, Andy Williams and Larry Wilcox, who is better recognized driving a motorcycle in the televison series "CHiPs."
"We're here by special invitation," explained Dan Ronsisvalle, Alabama. No camera. "I'm a evangelical minister from Birmingham. Most of us are evangelical leaders . . . Oh, yes, we're born-again Christians . . . We were invited to commute here for a special dialogue with the president."
The president stayed six minutes.
The reception and dinner following were organized by Doug Wead of Montana, founder of Mercy Corps International, which was formed three years ago. Through Mercy Corps he raises money for various causes. He is also the publisher of On magazine, author and born-again Christian. Proceeds, this time, will go for drug rehabilitation.
"We're not sure which organizations will get the money yet," said Wead. "We're sort of a charity dinner in search of a charity."
After the president and Mrs. Reagan left, Larry Wilcox, cute, cuddly and blond, stole the show. A very long line formed in the East Room leading to him. He patiently posed for pictures and cheerfully signed dozens of autographs.
Why was he here?
"Well I was in Vietnam and I saw a lot of drug problems there," said Wilcox. "And the film industry has its share, too. I wanted to help if I could."
But was he a born-again Christian too?
"No, but I know what you're saying," he smiled sweetly. "There are a lot of them here. I just realized that . . . "