The candidate, his hands jammed into the pockets of his raincoat and the wind whipping his hair in circles, shook his head in disgust as he looked around for a crowd at the factory gate.
"Frederick, what's the deal? Where is everybody?"
Fred Holland, 23, working his first political campaign as a professional, looked helplessly at Robert A. Pascal, the Maryland Republican nominee for governor.
"I'm sorry, sir. Apparently they've had a lot of layoffs here, about 70 percent, so there aren't that many people coming to work on this shift."
This was Hagerstown, the Pangborn, Inc. manufacturing plant. Another long day in a long campaign.
It was not the first time that poor advance work had embarrassed Pascal. Nor was it the first time Pascal felt tired and disgusted and wondered if he was ever going to get a break in his uphill battle against Democratic Gov. Harry Hughes.
While Hughes travels the state as a celebrity, greeted by local officials wherever he goes, Pascal is often unnoticed. There are few elected Republican officials in Maryland so there are fewer people to turn to for advice and help. If the governor takes a position on an issue, it is news. If Pascal takes a position, unless it is radical, it is often ignored.
Many of Pascal's problems are not of his making: He is the nominee of a party that represents only 23 percent of the registered voters, running against an incumbent who has inherent advantages in manpower, fund-raising and name recognition, and no major negatives.
Beyond that though, Pascal, by his own admission, came into this race unaware of "the enormity" of a statewide candidacy.
"You just don't have any idea what it's like until you've lived through it," he said. "Getting elected governor is undoubtedly much more difficult than being governor."
Veteran Maryland politicians say that a Republican running statewide must do three things to have any chance of beating an incumbent Democrat:
Raise enough money to pay for television ads early in the campaign, to increase name recognition; develop a good relationship with the Republican National Committee, and find a negative in the incumbent and exploit it on TV.
The consensus statewide is that Pascal's batting average in these three areas is zero. He does not dispute that.
On fund-raising: "If I had anything to do over in this campaign I would have skipped all the appearances I made the first few months and spent all that time on the phone trying to raise money . . . you cannot get elected in a state that has 4 million people without lots of media.
"You can buy an election, buy an image. You can't get elected just by getting out and talking to people.
"Now we're in a position of trying to campaign full time and fund raise. That's no good."
Pascal held a fund-raiser in December that brought in $75,000 but he had no ads on TV until mid-July, when many people were on vacation, and then they lasted only two weeks. "Definitely a mistake," Pascal said. "We should have followed up right away and raised more money so we could have early TV."
The experts say a minimum of 80 percent of the people need to recognize the name of a candidate for him to win statewide; just before the primary, Pascal was hovering at slightly more than 40 percent. He concedes that name recognition remains his biggest problem. "If people out there know me, I'll win," he says. But even as he spoke, sitting in a Gaithersburg restaurant, a waitress approached and said, "Somebody told me that you're the mayor."
On the national committee, which doesn't give much money to gubernatorial candidates, but can provide professional advice and facilities: "I didn't think we had a bad relationship with them until the newspaper story in which they said they held little hope for me. That hurt my credibility. But I still believe you have to be your own guy. You can't have outsiders telling you how to run a campaign."
On negative TV: "The best Republican TV in this state is negative TV," said one adviser. "You have to get the Democratic voter to be disgusted with or scared of the incumbent." Pascal said, "The TV we're going to do the last three weeks will hit him [Hughes] on the issues. I don't believe in attacking a man's personality. If that's what you have to do to get elected, I don't want it that bad."
In Pascal's ads, the incumbent was barely discussed. What's more, the ads were classic Democratic TV. Pascal was portrayed as innovative, a socially conscious good guy. Except for one shot of Pascal tearing down a wanted poster, there was nothing even bordering on criticism of the incumbent.
"Wasted time and wasted money," said one Democrat. "That's been Bob's biggest problem in this campaign. He's a good Democratic candidate running as a Republican."
Pascal, who was a Democrat until 1970, smiles at that argument. He has modeled himself after Maryland's moderate three-term Republican Sen. Charles McC. Mathias Jr.
Pascal tries to appeal to Republicans as a small businessman "who knows what it is to try and meet a payroll." But his discomfort with the Reagan administration showed clearly when he needed two weeks to answer a reporter's question asking him to name five things on which he specifically agreed with the administration. When he finally answered, he only came up with four positives, one of them being, "I'm glad we've maintained our support of Israel." At the same time, he said he thought the Reagan administration might have been "insensitive" to the problems of poor blacks when it first came to power.
How much Pascal wants to get elected has been an issue since he announced his candidacy eight months ago. Republicans spent the spring ardently urging him to begin organizing, setting up county organizations, rounding up volunteers. Pascal ignored the advice, insisting he could beat Hughes with a 90-day campaign.
"He's run this campaign as if he's running for mayor of Annapolis," said one exasperated Republican leader. " . . . he hasn't wanted to bust his butt."
Paul Clark, the Montgomery County GOP central committee chairman, said, "If I had a statewide candidate I was working for, I would start him two years before the election. In this county I would get him to little coffees and teas with the wealthy and influential people we have here. I would want them on board a year before the election."
Pascal, whose daily schedule usually includes breaks for racquetball or rest, listened quietly at breakfast one morning at the Maryland Inn while state party chairman Allan C. Levey and State Sen. Edward P. Thomas literally screamed at him to become more aggressive.
"Don't worry about it," said Pascal. "You don't want to gear up too quick and peak too soon."
Now Pascal says such thinking may have been faulty. "You can never peak too soon, especially running as a challenger," he said. "You can never organize too soon, get volunteers too soon, raise money too soon. Nothing is too soon."
Pascal hoped to overcome his name-recognition problem with a series of weekly post-primary news conferences. Each would be held twice, first in the Washington area, then in Baltimore, to ensure maximum coverage.
But the Pascal people telegraphed their first punch, an attack on Hughes' prison policies, and found the governor's people waiting with answers to their charges on the day of the show.
The next week's announcement, on senior citizens, was postponed. When it finally was made, only one TV station showed up in each market, and Pascal was embarrassed because he lacked specifics to back up his attack (a recurring problem) and ended up dodging questions on where he stands on abortion.
The news conferences have been abandoned.
Part of Pascal's problem was that at the start he believed he could make all the decisions, pull all the levers and still have time to be the candidate. His only close adviser was longtime confidant Herman Intemann.
In May, when Pascal decided he needed a professional manager, he hired Fred Roberts, a former GOP National Committee worker, but Roberts lasted only a month.
"He didn't know Maryland, he didn't know the players," Pascal said.
Pascal fired Roberts and in July hired another old friend, Anne Arundel County builder Bob DeStefano, who is considered bright and hard working, but like Pascal, is working in his first statewide campaign.
"He knew early in 1981 that he was going to run for governor," said one Republican organizer. "He literally wasted an entire year."
Pascal's disappointment at the factory gate in Hagerstown is only one example of a campaign that still is not on track.
Mathias recently spent part of a day campaigning with Pascal in Montgomery County, but the two events at which they appeared were attended by a total of 25 people.
"But," Pascal insisted, "they were very influential people."
Five weeks before election day, reporters covering the campaign received three red-and-white "Pascal for Governor" envelopes on the same day.
Inside each was a press release: The same press release.
Informed of the foulup, a Pascal aide pleaded, "give us a break, we're still trying to get our act together."