After almost a year of frenzied preliminaries, the 1980 presidential election campaign began in earnest yesterday with the major candidates and their running mates in pursuit of the labor vote.
Everyone broke tradition on the official opening of the campaign. Jimmy Carter, as in 1976, avoided Cadillac Square in Detroit in favor of a regional roots trip in Alabama. Ronald Reagan opened up in New Jersey, across from the Statue of Liberty, which is anything but his natural base. And John Anderson by simply showing up anywhere, made a little more history for his independent campaign.
Since you tuned out, Reagan has dropped in the polls and wounded himself with some controversial comments about the Vietnam war, the various Chinas and the theory of evolution; Anderson has nearly slipped beneath the floor that would get him into the presidential debates. And Carter has made up with Teddy Kennedy in the least convincing love affair of the year.
And yet, each begins the final act of the campaign better than he might have expected: Carter happy to have survived the primaries; Reagan pleased to be no worse than even with an incumbent president; and Anderson ecstatic that his campaign has not yet become the Comet Kohoutek of 1980.
With 62 shopping days left before Nov. 4, this thing is getting serious.