Reprinted fron yesterday's late editions
President Carter clad in plaid shirt and corduroy pants, stood on the outdoor stage, just a little past dusk Monday evening, surveying the crowd of mostly young people sitting at picnic tables spread over the sweeping South Lawn fo the White Hosue.
"My son Chip said I was too old for this," the president told the crowd, but Chip said if I let him use my backyard, I could come."
A casual backyard atmosphere did prevail - in what must be one of the most elegant backyards in Washington - for the "Georgia Barbecue" given by presidential sons Chip, Jeff and Jack plus Chip's wife Caron, and Jeff's wife Annette.
Jacks's wife Judy was not there, according to President Carter, because she is preparing instead, for the birth of her next child due this December.
The picnic was for "friends and workers" in the 1976 Democratic presidential campaign. Performing was the Atlanta Rhythem Section, a popular rock group from Atlanta and a favorite of music buff Chip.
"I think I have a lot in common with the Atlanta Rhythm Section," said the president. "I remember when they first started, critics and commentators said they didn't have a chance. They said the same about me."
Carter told the crowd, "We've done a tremendous amount here. The 95th Congress will go down in history as not being fearful to tackle the tough subjects."
After his brief introduction, Carter sat through a few songs with his grandson James Earl Carter IV - Chip's son - on his knee as people wandered by to talk with him. His sons and daughters-in-law moved through the crowd talking with friends, including Caron Carter's relatives and school friends from her almamater, Wesleyan in Macon.
Both Chip and Caron responded to the frequently asked question about whether or not they were still living together by saying they were.
Chip furrowed his brow in mock-seriousness, and said, "We live upstairs on the third floor of the White House in a sitting room, a bedroom and a baby's room . . . Yeah, that's what everybody asks me," he said, smiling wanly.
A road crew member for the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Jerry Coddy, a college friend of Chip's from the time when they were at Georgia South western in Americus, said he had spent some time talking with Chip about "old times." "Chip said he's made 36 speeches in six days. We talked about school, his fund-raising in Maine, and how he went with Hunter Thompson to the Muhammed Ali-Leon Spinks fight."
As the band played, the picnic turned into a dancing party as people swarmed to the front of the outdoor stage to dance and clap with pleasure. Once-nervous record producers who smiled and talked politely at the beginning of the concert were soon grinning and swaying with the best of the music.
"It seems to be more a gathering of friends than an official event," said one guest.