They've known each other for a while, Redskin Hog George Starke said, since they're both alumni of Columbia University. And if it was hard to imagine the monumentally proportioned Starke even occupying the same universe as the nearly microscopic Dr. Ruth Westheimer, it was less hard to imagine the inevitable Dr. Ruth jokes.
"I won't say she's helped me with my sex life," Starke said at last night's fundraiser for the Women's Campaign Fund, "but I won't say she's hurt it."
Sometimes, it must be hard to be Dr. Ruth. Sometimes, she must want to talk about something else. Last night, at least she got to discuss gender, which may be close to sex, but not as close as she usually gets.
"Somebody like myself," said Dr. Ruth, "who speaks so much about women taking risks and women being in the forefront . . . "
Then the crowd, which included actress Margot Kidder, Bullets star Tom McMillen and former defense secretary Robert McNamara, stirred.
"I have three daughters I'm trying to raise," Lynda Robb, wife of the Virginia governor, said in the second between being introduced and swept away into the throng.
After at least a dozen kisses and a million grandmotherly smiles, Westheimer continued.
"If a woman runs for office and is capable of doing it, I want to support her. And I like to support an organization where men and women work together," she said, gesturing into the Kalorama garden of Joan and Maurice Tobin, he a former board president of the National Theatre, she a former Fleischmann. It was, indeed, packed with a coed group of 400 or so people.
The Women's Campaign Fund is an 11-year-old bipartisan political action group that provides financial and technical help to "qualified, progressive women" running for local, state and federal office. Last night's reception at the Tobins' was followed by 17 dinners at private homes around the city. Each of them, ranging from formal to as casual as you get with a fundraiser, featured several special guests like Dr. Ruth, Kidder, architect Arthur Cotton Moore, Rep. Tim Wirth (D-Colo.) and CBS correspondent Fred Graham. The night's events, which cost $150 a person, are expected to raise $50,000.
"We're really taking our places at the head table of world politics," said Kidder about women in politics, thus snatching the prize for the most appropriate dinner metaphor of the evening. Kidder first became involved in politics through the nuclear freeze movement, she said, and then "realized, like everyone else does, that all the issues are connected."
The Women's Campaign Fund conducted a study last year that concluded that women were not losing races because they couldn't raise enough money, but because they were engaged in races against strong incumbents. Now, the WCF has launched a candidate recruitment program to find potential women candidates and match them with races they have a good chance of winning.
"Ninety-five percent of incumbents win," said program coordinator Joan McLean. "Well, 95 percent of incumbents are men."
The program will continue for 10 years. "We're hoping for an impact in '88 and beyond," said WCF executive director Stephanie Solien. "Eighty-six is too soon."
"We have to get women elected," said Rhode Island Attorney General Arlene Violet, the country's first woman to be elected state attorney general. Violet, for whom the word "enthusiast" was created, said the fund had helped her in both a first unsuccesful run and her subsequent winning campaign. "I just love them. I can't say enough about them."
"Way to go!" said Violet about the new recruitment program. "Way to go!"
The fund will aid only women who support freedom of choice on abortion and ratification of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, which has worried some supporters, who say an unqualified pro-choice stand is political suicide in certain parts of the country.
"I think most women candidates see what the polls show -- that the majority of Americans support the ERA and believe in a woman's right to choose an abortion," said Solien. "There are some wonderful women who do not agree with us on certain issues, and it has been a disappointment, but we feel we have to hold firm because we feel these are basic civil rights issues for women."