Vice President Bush swept into Richmond for about an hour today, just long enough for Republican Wyatt B. Durrette to pick up about $250,000 in his campaign for governor.
Bush, giving a luncheon pep talk on the Reagan administration, chided Democrats as the party of "sighing and moaning and pessimism" while the GOP is the party of "family, fairness and growth . . . . It isn't simply a Washington battle, [Durrette] shares these views with the president of the United States."
Durrette, a Richmond lawyer, faces Democrat Gerald L. Baliles in the Nov. 5 general election.
Some supporters of Baliles, who backed the Reagan-Bush ticket last year, ran newspaper ads in Richmond welcoming Bush but criticizing Durrette. A "Republicans for Baliles" ad praised Bush and Reagan but said Durrette "has shifted his position on virtually every major issue facing Virginia today" and has "no vision" for the state.
Bush agreed to come to the state after President Reagan's colon operation forced him to cancel a July 30 appearance here.
Although $250,000 was among the highest amounts grossed at a single state Republican event, the contributions were about half what the campaign had hoped to raise with a Reagan visit, according to campaign officials.
About 60 persons, not all of whom paid, attended a private $10,000-a-couple reception for Bush before the $500-per-person lunch of steak and potatoes that drew about 300 persons to the Richmond Marriott Hotel. The price would have doubled for Reagan, staffers said.
Durrette staffers said they had not calculated the cost of the luncheon, including Bush's flight on Air Force Two, to determine how much the event would clear.
Steve Levet, a press spokesman for Durrette, said 5 percent of the net proceeds would go to Durrette's running mates, state Sen. John H. Chichester of Fredericksburg, the party's candidate for lieutenant governor, and W.R. (Buster) O'Brien, a Virginia Beach legislator who is running for attorney general.
Bush's offer to counsel O'Brien "if you need any gratuitous advice about running against women" was met by laughter. Bush was opposed in 1984 by Democrat Geraldine Ferraro. O'Brien is being opposed by Democrat Mary Sue Terry, a conservative legislator from Patrick County.
The Republicans all stressed that they are "running as a team" and kept to their general efforts to link Virginia Democrats with the more liberal image of their national party.
Former governor Mills B. Godwin, an influential adviser to Durrette, referred to the "Democratic liberal party" and said elected state Democrats would support more liberal candidates in national elections. "I don't know any of them who supported Ronald Reagan. They were in Jimmy Carter's corner and Walter Mondale's corner . . . . "
Former Virginia senator Harry F. Byrd Jr., a staunch conservative independent who has not yet endorsed Durrette, sat at the head table but did not speak.
Reporters were told earlier this week by the Durrette staff that Bush would not be available for questions, but the Durrette campaign privately selected four Virginia reporters to make the brief flight to Richmond with the vice president.