The first thing Elaine Jenkins, president of the Committee of 100, a black Republican group, did when she got to the NutraSweet party at the Mayflower Hotel -- even before she took off her coat -- was to line up Donald Rumsfeld, Melvin Laird and her husband Howard Jenkins, for a picture on her disc camera.
"I guess that is as close to the good old days as we will ever come," said Howard Jenkins, referring to the time when he was a member of the National Labor Relations Board, Laird was secretary of defense and Rumsfeld, host of yesterday's monumental buffet brunch for 1,000, was chief of staff for President Ford or secretary of defense, Jenkins wasn't sure which.
Rumsfeld, who is now chief executive officer and president of G.D. Searle, said he had no feelers out for any of the slots vacant in the second Reagan term. "I guess the real answer is that I am fully occupied doing what I am doing at the present."
Inaugural chairman Ron Walker, an executive search consultant before the inauguration who expected to be back on that job soon, admitted he had a few business cards tucked in his pocket from people interested in new jobs. "Not Rumsfeld's," he added quickly. "He doesn't need me."
Walker's major concern yesterday was coping with the extraordinarily cold weather, first canceling last night's youth pageant -- "We were worried about frostbite, and we couldn't do the fireworks because of the wind, and we're disappointed" -- and constantly checking to see if it might be too cold for the inaugural parade today.
But for the Chicago folk at the party, the bitter cold Washington temperatures were just a breeze. Teased one who arrived that morning, "It is 27 degrees warmer here than in Chicago."