Here is a sample of things the Democrats, meeting yesterday to choose a nominee for the U.S. Senate, said about their Republican opponents:
"Electing Richard Obenshain to replace William L. Scott would be like electing a caveman to replace a dinosaur. If Scott is bad, Obenshain is dangerous because he knows how to talk". - candidate Fred Babson of Virginia Beach, who amassed a total of 11 votes out of 2,793 on the first ballot.
"Richard Obenshain is just Bill Scott's clone," - Andrew P. Miller, who was as close to winning the nomination after the first ballot as he expected - 175 votes short.
"He's the big "O" - or should I say zero," said Del. Erwin S. (Shad) Solomon in his speech nominating Carrington Williams. "He represents the reactionary, repressive element in the Republican Party, the negative Nixon, Mitchell, Agnew, segments that preyed on fears and prejudices to win elections. For Shame, For Shame, Obenshain!"
It could be said that, superficially, the Democrats differ from the Republicans - who held their own convention last weekend - in several ways.
All eight Democratic candidates for the nomination had either a black or a woman or both to second their nomination.
The Republicans ran through all their votes by congressional district without much ado; the Democrats were snagged fairly often on challenges, demands for recounts, an other hassles.
During the frist ballot, some delegates for Rufus Phillips demanded that the 3rd District's votes be recounted, creating some bad temper among the other delegates in the district. "It just because some of their people were out getting coffee," griped one woman.
After the first ballot the black caucus headed for a meeting room, ostensibly to endorse a candidate. But the meeting soon turned into a shouting match when two motions were proposed that would have canceled each other. "We never got the decorum needed to take a vote," said caucus chairman state Sen. L. Douglas Wilder.
There were shouted accusations and angry exchanges between black supporters of Miller and state Sen. Clive DuVal, the two top runners in the race. Several delegates stalked out, one saying "it's a farce."
Meanwhile, convention chairman John Warren Cooke called for voting to begin on the second ballot. Objections were shouted from the floor, and then former lieutenant governor Henry E. Howell, a DuVal delegate from Norfolk who was the party's unsuccessful candidate for governor last fall, took the microphone to object. "We'll destroy democracy if we vote while delegates are still in caucus," he shouted. At that point the black caucus started filing back in, so a floor flight was avoided.
The speechmaking was generally undistingished,with a few exceptions. Carrington Williams, who was running a distant fifth after the first ballot, exhorted the crowd with such energy that he knocked the microphone off the stand. Undaunted, he grabbed the mike and waved it like a baton, although his last words were lost to the crowd.
Former delegate Ira M. Lechner of Arlington in nominating DuVal, got the crowd going with a rhythmic recital of DuVal's goals that was interupted by single claps in unison from DuVal's supporters.
"(He's for) peace! (clap), justice and equality! (clap), Human dignity! (clap)" and so forth, Lechner said, finishing with yet another Obenshain remark. "Defeat the extremist Obenshain!"
A religious refrain echoed through the procedings, perhaps in response to the presence of more than 400 fundamentalist Christians supporting bornagain Norfolk City Councilman G. Conoly Phillips.
Rufus Phillips for example was introduced by Rev. I. Joseph Williams as a "Christian brother," DuVal ended his speech by saying "God Bless you all," Rules committee chairman Chip Woodrum finished his report - which consisted of a tedious but mandatory reading of the six pages of convention rules - with the words "here ends the lessin." Conoly Phillips' supporters were occasionally heard humming hymns in the rest room, and quite a few carried Bibles. When Conoly Phillips closed his speech by asking for a moment of silence, the crowd complied to the amazement of some.
As far as fashion was concerned, the Democrats again displayed a distinct flair. Several men, including Conoly Phillips' convention manager, Don Fowler, and candidates Rufus' Phillip and Flora Crater, wore white suits, and Rufus' coordinators wore blue vests with "RUFUS" lettered on the back. Otherwise there was the usual range of blue jeans, leisure suits and pin-strips.
The name of Harry Truman was invoked at least three times during the nominating speeches and John F. Kennedy's twice. Jimmy Carter was mentioned once - to a distinctly unenthusiastic response.
When Flora Crater asked everyone who supported the ERA to take one of the pink tissue paper roses her supporters were distributing and wave them, roughly half the delegates did it. As they gently waved their roses, a recording of a song called "Bread and Roses" wafted over the assembly. It was not specifically an ERA song, Crater said later, but symbolized the fact that "we want both bread and roses."
Although no definite corelation could be confirmed, there was a number of empty seats on the platform while the Belmont Stakes was being shown on television. At one point the crowd around a television near the press section threatened to cause a people-jam. Convention secretary John Milliken announced the winner to cheers from the crowd.
There was some festivity following adjourment Friday night, judging from the comments traded between delegates. One group discovered a William and Mary campus hangout that features a "whiskey du jour" for a dollar a drink. Another group was turned away from a Ramada Inn restaurant because one member of the party was wearing blue jeans and aWashington Bullets "Fat Lady" T'Shirt.
"I've treated one or two for hangovers," said one of the rescue squad officers on duty. "One lady had a spider bite, but wouldn't go to the hospital until after Clive DuVal was nominated, and one man was hit by a placard and cut his face. It wasn't serious."
Minutes before Miller's opponents were to Concede, Conoly Phillips' campaign manager Jerry Tiahrt came up to him in the hall and said he had asked all his delegates to pray and ask their rivals in their districts to pray with them. "They's doing it!" he reported, "and they've got some DuVal people and some other ones prayingwith them."
Notwithstanding the drama of the last minutes, it was generally agreed that this convention was not among the most exciting ever held. As the totals moved slowly but inexorably toward Miller, and it became clear that the other candidates could not unite behind any one of them, it was simply a question of waiting it out. "That was our strategy," said one Miller aide. "To make it as boring as possible and just sit it out."