Shortly before noon yesterday, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Henry E. Howell walked into his campaign office in Springfield trailing a crowd of reporters and political aides in his considerable wake.
"All right! Henry Howell working for the people," the candidate announced as he received a hug from headquarters coordinator Janet Carver.
"How're you doing" Carver asked. "Just one more week to go."
"I'm doing great, Janet." the candidate replied."I've been doing this so long I can't tell the difference any more."
With seven days remaining in his third race for the Virginia governor-ship. Howell was clearly buoyant, his spirits rising directly with the size of his media retinue.
Yesterday that included eight reporters, three television film crews, two radio reporters, one photographer and two Washington based columnists. Howell had risen early for two radio interviews and had three others scheduled plus a TV taping later in the day. He was feeling expansive.
"The people are going to unite and march to the polls on Nov. 8," he declared "and the size of my victory margin may surprise every political prognosticator that ever lived or that lives today."
Trailing cameras and soundmen, Howell rambled through Loehman's Plaza in Fairfax County in midmorning trumpeting his advocacy of lower utility rates to two barbers, two merchants, one print shop operator and a real estate agent.
In the Springfield office he autographed picture postcards of himself and his wife for campaign volunteers then sat for a radio taping that proved a forum for the quintessential quotable Howell. Some samples:
"On Northern Virginia rush-hour traffic jams."In terms of human conduct I think it would violate the Constitution . . ."
On the Equal Rights Amendment:"I'm for it. We passed one ERA in the Virginia Constitution and my opponent thinks that's enough. He thinks folks stay down on the farm. Now the farm's a great place, but farm wives are on the move now. They go to grange meetings in Minnesota Dubuque . . . They go all over . . . They want equal rights everywhere in the nation."
On local government: "I'm going to recommend a constitutional amendment to let local problems be solved by local officials. Otherwise local government will wither up. It's already getting somewhat prune-like, but it will be a dry pit hanging from a limb in the desert if we don't put some vitality into the roots . . ."
On Taxes: "No GENERAL tax increase . . . Now, there are tax loop-holes, unfairness woven into the tax structure when we conformed the state income tax with the federal income tax. That's just like pairing up Little Orphan Annie to jump rope with Wilt Chamberlain . . . It's hard to get them in thythm . . . we're going to meet with the General Assembly on the tax loopholes which will hurt nobody but the super rich, who will sleep better and smile more if they're doing their share.
John N. Dalton, Howell's Republican opponent, campaigned in the traditionally Republican Shenandoah Valley yesterday, continuing to attack Howell on the issues on which he believes the Democrat is most vulnerable-taxes and the state's right-to-work law.
Dalton charges that Howell will increase taxes if he is elected although Howell has pledged to veto any general tax increases. Dalton, as he has previously, refused to say that he would veto a tax increase if it were approved by the General Assembly."I don't think a candidate should paint himself into a box." Dalton said. He said that if the state were faced with a financial crisis he would handle it "like Gov. (Mills E.) Godwin last year." Godwin imposed a 5 per cent budget cut on all state departments last year.
Dalton spent the day attending several rallies, visiting his son's dormitory at James Madison University, touring a turkey processing plant and shaking hands at a furniture factory.