Because of a typographical error, the list in Tuesday's Washington Post of top-salaried advisers to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's presidential campaign was incomplete. The listing of persons earning between $42,000 and $50,000 should also have included Richard Drayne, Phillip Bakes and James Flug.
Sunlight filters into the office of Edward Kennedy's campaign manager through a special window he had the workmen chop in the wood paneling and the brick back in the gravy days of November. It bathes the office in a cheery glow that today has little in common with the mood of its occupant.
"I knew what to expect, damn right I did. Day before the caucuses I called those Iowa percentages almost exactly -- your bet your a-- . . . Problem was, as soon as we opened our door it was nothing but ragtime."
Stephen Smith is sitting at his desk gazing over the top of his half-moon spectacles, over the left shoulder of his visitor, and out toward that little window.
His sentences are quick and stacato; they strike in bursts and trail off into nothingness, prompted at times by a reporter's question and at times by no question at all.
"We were trying to start up in 50 states all at once . . . Now money's a problem, sure. But the press focused in on what was just horse ----. And out there it was just ragtime . . . When we started, it was three weeks before we even got a wire in . . . and I'd be here all day and into the night and it would be dark and I'd never even know it -- it was depressing in here -- and finally I had to have that window put in . . . So we were going off in 50 directions at once -- and going against the best switchboard in the world, and we couldn't even get a phone wire in the beginning . . . It was all happening to us at once."
One moment he is sitting bolt up right behind his desk and the next he is slouched, staring off at that window; his frame, always well-tailored, is slim, younger than his 51 years; his face leathered and lined and considerably older, hardened perhaps by the times. He is Edward Kenndy's brother-in-law and campaign manager and he is presiding over a once-soaring effort that has plummeted.
He knows that eventually blame will be cast. So rebuttals of defense come tumbling out before questions can be asked. Now and then he forces a quick, tight smile, but it disappears almost as soon as it arrives. Clearly, he finds little humor in the politically hard times that have befallen the surviving son of one of the great American political families.
"It was all moving too quickly . . .It wasn't as orderly as you'd like . . . He got overscheduled . . . We overspent . . . But from the outside, I'll tell you, it's just a lot of ragtime."
Edward Kennedy is still out there in the ragtime -- the political helter-skelter -- a onetime front-runner now struggling to make his candidacy work. But just a couple of weeks ago, it was not clear that this was the tack he would take.
It is the day after Iowa, and in the second floor suite of the senior senator from Massachusetts, the question is not how Edward Kennedy is going to resurrect his failing campagin for president, but whether he is even going to try.
The debate has been day-long, Kennedy sitting in the easy chair in his inner office, his top advisers with him, a constant core with added starters floating in and out, as one of them recalls. It is midafternoon when Kennedy leaves for a vote on the Senate floor. In his absence, one of the eight advisers suggests a sort of sense-of-the-staff vote. Continue campaigning or quit?
The vote, according to two Kennedy advisers, is 4 to 4.
To understand the extent and commitment of the current effort by which Kennedy is seeking to revive his candidacy, it is important to know just how far the Kennedy campaign had fallen, as viewed by the Kennedy inner circle itself. The view, as pieced together from interviews with Kennedy's advisers, was far more discouraging than would become public.
For two days, after Kennedy's crushing defeat in Iowa, the candidate conferred in his office and his home with those who are closest to him, both within and outside the official staff. They talked about what, if anything, could be done, and whether the effort should even be made.
Meanwhile, at the Kennedy for President headquarters that has been fashioned out of the old Cadillac dealership on 22nd Street NW, there were similar meetings of other Kennedy campaign officials, including some who are long on expertise on campaigning but short on clout with Kennedy, and who thus were not really part of the highest council of deliberation.
Financially, the campaign was broke. Politically, its prospects were bleak.
This stark reality was made in the reporting, back at the headquarters, of advisers including finance chairman Martin Katz, and the campaign's public opinion analysts, Peter Hart, the professional outside pollster contracted to serve the Kennedy campaign; and Gary Orren, the Harvard professor who is the campaign's on-staff polling expert.
On the day after the Iowa caucuses, the Kenendy campaign had just $160,000 in cash -- and this only because it had earlier received an $800,000 loan. The campaign did not have enough cash to meet its full payroll, let alone pay any of the campaign's overhead. The lack of cash was especially crippling, the Kennedy advisers concluded, because there was little hope, in the wake of Kennedy's 2-to-1 trouncing in Iowa, of a new wave of contributions rolling in to the campaign.
This had been the Cadillac of campaigns. Salaries alone make that clear. The Kennedy campaign had allowed itself to grow top-heavy with high-salaried advisers. Twelve were in the top brackets of between $42,000 and $50,000, with most of them bunched at the higher end of the scale.
President Carter's campaign has just two persons who are paid more than $39,000: campaign manager Tim Kraft ($55,000) and newly hired deputy campaign manager Malcolm Dade ($53,500), according to director of administration Donna Sagemiller. (Campaign chairman Robert Strauss takes no salary.)
But at the Kennedy campaign, according to campaign officials, former senator Dick Clark held the top salary of $50,000 -- he is the deputy campaign chairman and it was his job primarily to carry Iowa for Kennedy. Bunched in the $42,000 to $50,000 range just below him were Martin Katz, Richard Carey Parker, Mark Schneider, Peter Edelman, Robert Bates, Joanne Howes, Ronald Brown, and Carl Wagner. (Stephen Smith and other Kennedy family members drew no salary, nor did former Wisconsin governor Patrick Lucey.)
There stands, in Chicago a monument to the comfortable standard of the Kennedy campaign life. It is an immaculate and lavish suite of offices located on the ninth floor of the luxurious Water Tower Place, in the opulent shopping area along North Michigan Avenue. It is Kennedy's Illinois campaign headquarters. Blocks away, on the fifth floor of an aging, narrow building on industrial Dearborn Street, there is another suite -- a shabby and cluttered place furnished in cardboard coffee cup modern: it is Carter's Illnois headquarters.
The most noticed of all the symbols of Kennedy campaign spending, however, was the campaign's chartered airplane -- a Boeing 727. Initially, the Kennedy campaign spent $40,000 to reconfigure the interior.
When it was flying, the plane cost $10,000, plus extra charges for each takeoff and landing that added several thousand dollars more. When it was not flying, the plane still cost the campaign $5,000 a day. And despite the exorbitant charge the campaign exacted from members of the media who rode the plane with Kennedy, the campaign still operated at a net loss of about $250,000 in November and December alone, according to campaign sources.
There came a moment of truth in the fortunes of the Kennedy plane. It came when finance chairman Martin Katz went to campaign chairman Stephen Smith to say that it was fiscally wrong to have the plane sitting on the ground for 10 dyas -- chewing up $5,000 each day -- while Kennedy was taking a Christmastime vacation in Palm Beach. Katz, according to several campaign sources, recommended that the plane had to go. The answer back, from Smith, was that the plane would stay. He (and apparently Kennedy) thought it was worth the expense, that the road show was after all a political investment and that it would appear a sign of political weakness prior to the Iowa caucus to jettison the jet.
On Jan. 21, the day of the Iowa caucuses, it was announced that the Kennedy jet would be grounded.
It is mid-morning on Jan. 22 and the Iowa caucuses have been part of America's political history for all of several hours, when the staff-level segment of the Kennedy inner circle begin to gather in the senator's office in the Dirksen Building:
Stephen Smith, campaign tactician Pual Kirk, Rick Burke (Kennedy's young administrative aide), Lawrence Horowitz (one of his issues experts), and speechwriters Carcy Parker and Robert Shrum. Later Carl Wagner, political strategist, will arrive from Iowa and will join the group.
They will be the nucleus of the Kennedy insiders who will meet off and on, in the office and in the senator's home, in the next few days. On occasion, foreign issues expert Jan Kalicki and domestic issues expert Peter Edelman will join the group; at times Thomas Southwick, Kennedy's young and relatively inexperienced press secretary, will be included for a while. But they are not really part of the crucial deliberations. Interestingly absent from this inner circle are Richard Drayne, who was for years Kennedy's press secretary and is now a campaign adviser, and pollster Peter Hart, a man of national reputation for political acumen.
Kennedy joins the circle in mid-morning, taking his place in his usual easy chair. He was jovial and in astonishingly good spirits the night before, in making his Iowa concession speech. Now he is reflective.
"I want to hear what everyone thinks about where we are, and where we are going, and what we should do," Kennedy says. And this sets off two days of deliberations.
Smith and Kirk relay the fiscal and political realities. The Kennedy campaign pollsters, Hart and Orren, have come up with a gloomy set of statistics. In Maine (the next caucus state) and New Hampshire (the next primary state) -- Kennedy's place of supposed regional strength -- Kennedy is trailing Carter by approximately 60 percent to 30 percent, just as he is in virtually every state in the nation.
One adviser resorts to a personally awkward metaphor in describing Kennedy's political outlook, in a discussion outside of the office. "There is a national tide running against us," he says. "It's a tide that is rising for Carter and rising against Kennedy."
Kennedy's public opinion experts had concluded that most of Carter's rise in the polls resulted from a strong increase in patriotic feeling and support for the president in time of crisis in Iran and Afghanistan.
They had done polling on foreign policy questions just before the Iowa caucuses and found high support for Carter's handling of the crises. But there was a ray of political hope: when the questions probed more specific feelings, it appeared that Carter's support, though broad, was shallow. People seemed to feel that Carter had given no clear sense of policy or direction.
There was one other significant point that showed up in the analysis of Kennedy's pollsters. Carter's greatest strength, in the public view, was in the area of personal integrity and high moral character. This was Kennedy's area of greatest weakness -- a reflection of Chappaquiddick, according to the polls.
Kennedy offers no opinions of his own as he listens to the assessments. Instead he asks those of his inner circle for their views and recommendations.
At times the circle is tough, but it is never vicious. The criticisms are voiced, but they are offered gently. Still, some say flatly that Kennedy should not continue his campaign, that there is no point in waging a hopeless fight that can only destroy him politically. Some urge him in to suspend his active campaigning but not actually withdraw, to stay available and viable in case there is a change in Carter's own political fortunes. "We're fighting the flag," one says. But he adds that the aura of Iran and Afghanistan cannot last forever.
A third recommendation -- perhaps the more widely shared of the three -- is that Kennedy should stay in and fight it out, no matter what.One adviser argues rather passionately that Kennedy will hurt himself more by quitting than by staying and fighting. There are many people in America who believe in Kennedy and he should stay in and fight because they have put their faith in him, the adviser argues.
Kennedy questions the analysis of-each speaker, much as a devils's advocate.
To one who suggested he withdraw, Kennedy asks, "Won't I get hurt more if I get out? What would I say? When I got in, didn't I say it was because the country was in a mess" So why would I now say I was getting out?"
The deliberations continue through lunch, as sandwiches are brought in. They continute as new faces enter, and some of those closest to Kennedy duck out for a while to keep previous appointments. When that 4-to-4 vote is taken in Kenndedy's absence, it does not necessarily reflect all of the views of those Kennedy would call his closest advisers.
On the table, at the Kennedy home on Chain Bridge Road in Virginia, the fare is roast beef, and around the table, the discussion is Kennedy. The senator has invited several outsiders to join his campaign elite in discussing his future. Attending are former senator John Tunney; John Seigenthaler, publisher of the Nashville Tennesseean; attorney John Douglas; New England hotel owner William Dunfey; longtime associate Edward Martin; plus Smith; Kirk; Parker; Shrum; and Horowitz.
From the end of the table, Kennedy again says he wants to hear the views of his guests. One person makes a rather strong argument that Kennedy should withdraw and "keep yourself from getting kicked around the block further." Others argue that he should stay in and make a race of it.
When one guest remarks, "You represent the hopes and aspirations of huge numbers of people," Kennedy smiles ruefully and says: "Yes -- I noticed that in Iowa."
By the time they have adjourned to the living room for cigars, one additional point has been emphasized: So far, the Kennedy campaign, as articulated by Kennedy on the stump and his ads on television, has not come across as standing for substantive change, as much as it has stood for electing Kennedy as a leader rather than Carter.
The guests depart and still Kennedy has given no indication of what he is thinking.
In the chamber of the House of Representatives, President Carter is delivering his State of the Union address, a message heavy on hardline foreign policy pronouncements, including the resumption of draft registration, and spare on domestic and economic affairs. In the audience, Kennedy sits somberly and when it is over, he telephones press secretary Thomas Southwick from the cloakroom to say that he will issue no statement of reaction. He will meet with his advisers in the morning. He is the only presidential candidate to say nothing that night.
Kennedy is again in his easy chair, in his office and his advisers have gathered as instructed late Thursday morning. "We're going to do this and we're going to do it right," Kennedy says. It is the first time that his advisers have heard that he intends to stay in and fight. He says he will make a speech -- it will talk about the State of the Union that Carter did not mention.
He ticks off the points he wants to make. He will call for wage and price controls; this had been discussed by his political and economic advisers in a meeting with him in Palm Beach the day after Christmas, and was judged to be an economic measure of last resort that was nevertheless politically popular. He will call for gasoline rationing; this could prove politically unpopular.
And he will attack Carter's decision to start draft registration -- despite the patriotic sentiment now widespread in the country. Some aides suggest that Kennedy might want to moderate his positions.
"If I'm going to continue, it will be on the kind of terms I want," Kennedy says. And at another point, he concedes, in a moment of political fatalism, "I'm not going to be a George McGovern and I'm not going to win the nomination."
But he is adamant on staking out these views as the basis for his campaign.
Kennedy cancels his weekend of campaigning so he can work with his writers on his speech, to be delivered Monday at Georgetown University. Several Advisers, looking back, believe that for the first time, he was setting about building for his campaign the very thing it had lacked -- a substanive platform.
Meanwhile he also works alone on another speech he will unveil on Monday a 3 1/2-minute videotaping to air on New England stations in which he would talk about Chappaquiddick and Mary Jo Kopechne. No longer would he address the matter in the impersonal way of how a tragedy had impacted on him.
It is a move some advisers have long urged.
The Kennedy payroll is scrapped; now all advisers, like bumperstrip handlers, are volunteers. Resources will be spent only in New England.
In the Kennedy headquarters, workmen install additional banks of long-distance WATS lines for a fundraising blitz. All campaign aides, top to bottom, will put in three hours a day on the phones according to a memorandum from headquarters. The calls will begin, it said, immediately "after the evening news coverage of the Georgetown speech."