To some of those in attendance at the White House last night, like Baltimore City Councilman Dominic (Miami) DiPietro -- also known as "The Boss" -- it perhaps wasn't a terribly thrilling time, DiPietro, for one, has been active in politics for over a quarter century and pressed the flesh of many presidents before.
"Oh yeah," he barked on the north lawn, "I've been here lots."
But for others last night's presidential party for more than 400 Democratic convention delegates supporting President Carter's re-election bid was a high time indeed.
"God, he does look great," said wide-eyed Baltimore delegates and first-time White House guest James Melton, as the president shouted encouraging remarks in the East Room.
"He speaks so well, Damn, damn good speech," exclaimed Virginia delegate Tucker McLaughlin, applauding and hurrahing, as a fellow Virginian at his shoulder nodded excitedly.
The delegates, repesenting 14 states including Virginia and Maryland, arrived at the White House by the bus-load last evening and heard the president urge them to keep the faith in his candidacy.
Last night's was the last of three different receptions Carter has held at the White House for delegates pledged to support him at the Democratic convention 10 days from now.
Amid dissenters' efforts to open the convention to other candidates, and amid reports of Billy Carter's ties to Libya, the reception came at a time when some Democrats are openly expressing doubts about Carter's candidacy.
His delegates last night didn't care to hear anything at all about that. They shouted "We want Jimmy!" over and over as Carter entered the east room. "You've got me," Carter replied and the crowd roared.
In his speech Carter, not surprisingly, predicted victory in New York at the convention and in November in the general election, and welcomed "an honest debate of the issues" in New York.
"The Democratic Party has always been able to iron out its differences," he said. But, he added, I don't understand how a brokered, horse-traded, smoke-filled convention can be called "open" and the caucus and primary system be called 'closed.'"
The delegates, who were elected by the primary system to vote for Carter at the convention loved it. They cheered and chanted "four more years" before gathering on the south lawn to watch the president and his wife board a helicopter and whoosh away to Camp David for the weekend.
"Best part of the day," remarked one fatigued North Carolina delegate. "Only fresh air I got all day came from helicopter blades."
After the host departed in Marine One, the guests flocked to a first floor dining room to sip wine, nibble on cheese and admire the furnishings. Reporters repeatedly attempted to solicit their opinions on the "open convention" notion. "Carter's got it fair and square" and "you can't change the rules in the middle of the game" were standard replies.
Another answer came from Lynne Johnson, a Fairfax County delegate. When asked about dissension in the Virginia delegate ranks, she held her head up and sniffed. "That's just those Kennedy people."