The Republican National Convention, where rumor played as big a role as reality, had barely ended when a new -- and unfounded -- report made its way through this morning's meeting of the Republican National Committee.
Sen. Paul Laxalt, it was said, was so upset by the selection of George Bush as Ronald Reagan's running mate and by the zigzag course of that decision that he was resigning as chairman of the Reagan campaign.
The annoyance was real, but the resignation was not.
"I'm in this campaign, all the way, to stay," the Nevada senator said.
For Laxalt, Wednesday evening was a prolonged exercise in frustration as he tried to keep conservatives calm and tell them -- and reporters -- that no deal had yet been struck between Reagan and Gerald Ford. No one believed him.
"It was a wildly frustrating evening," he said. "The rumor that the deal was made just fed on itself, was all over the floor, and we couldn't convince anyone" otherwise. "Then I had to go back and not only tell them [the Reagan-Ford agreement] wasn't true, but they had decided on Bush."
Ruling himself off the Reagan ticket -- because it would have tipped the scales too much to the ideological right -- Laxalt favored a Reagan-Ford offering.
His frustration with the decision to select Bush -- or the tiring hoopla of the convention in general -- made itself known Thursday night when Laxalt dined with his family rather than listen to Reagan's acceptance speech or give a brief introductory speech for his fellow-conservative, North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms.
Rep. Robert Bauman (R-Md.), who introduced Helms at the session, said, "I didn't know until 10 minutes before-hand that I would give that speech. It was supposed to be Laxalt."