It was a different kind of solidarity.
Nearly 5,000 Virginia Republicans got together in the back yard of millionaire Sen. John W. Warner yesterday, took the state GOP ticket and everything Reagan in their collective embrace and gave it a great big hug.
While thousands of labor activists were marching to protest administration policies in the Capitol 40 miles away, these often conservative folks were devouring barbecued chicken and cole slaw by the ton, and washing it all down with liberal doses of bourbon and homespun political yarns.
The occasion: The fifth annual Atoka Country Supper, in which Warner, "the only Virginia farmer with a swimming pool in his barn," in the words of one GOP pol, lends a portion of his Hunt Country spread near Middleburg to the cause of raising party spirits, as well as about $50,000 in campaign funds.
For hundreds of mid-level party activists who can't afford the $1,000-a-plate dinners that decide who influences whom in Virginia's Republican scheme, it was a chance to see their media stars up close and personal.
For the power brokers themselves, it was a welcome opportunity to unload a few rhetorical bombs on the enemy, with no threat of incoming fire.
Maureen Reagan, daughter of the president, was there to assure the crowd that Reaganomics had only begun to fight. Gov. John N. Dalton was there to describe the three Republicans running for the state's highest offices as the finest ticket ever. And, with smiling wives on their arms, the candidates were there to step one-by-one to the microphone and denounce the bankruptcy of Democratic ploys.
The message: God help America if Virginia doesn't elect a Republican governor.
For most, however, it was a picnic, a symphony of success stories where tweed met polyester, where Yves Saint Laurent met Sears Roebuck where the cream of Virginia gentry, dressed in Lacoste sweaters and A-line skirts, met the front lines of suburban business in plaid pants and two-tone patent leather shoes.
"This is where the trickle down starts," joked Henry Millar, a Fairfax County trucking company executive who carried $30 worth of drink tickets in his breast pocket and bemoaned the $15,000 in federal income taxes he's paid so far this year. "That's the great thing about being in business, you know where the trickle down starts."
In the teeming crowd, the number of black faces numbered two.
Ignoring breezes that buffeted coiffes, guests sprawled beneath the willow trees to exchange idle banter. When the candidates appeared, they lined up to ogle them, give them down home hugs of encouragement and promise them their votes.
"I wonder who gets all his kisses," mused one woman tailing the bachelor candidate for lieutenant governor, Nathan Miller.
"I take my votes any way I can get them," quipped Miller, agreeing to pose with the woman for a photograph.
"I don't want to run for anything," said Chuck Horton, a retired Air Force colonel and state GOP convention delegate who now teaches the Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force -- among other clients -- how to jam enemy radar. "I just want to make sure the people who think like me are elected."
Some worried about the party's chances. Some were disappointed that Warner's wife, Elizabeth Taylor, was in San Francisco and couldn't be there. Others, like Frank Resko, a pastry manufacturer and Democrat from Silver Spring, just sipped their drinks and watched.
"I paid $25 to get in," chuckled Resko, dressed in a cowboy hat and dark glasses. "I'll be damned if I'm gonna feel out of place."