Working a crowd is a campaign obligation former New York senator James L. Buckley likes to dispense with as quickly as possible. So, when he appeared at a recent softball game, attired in his customary conservative suit, he greeted just half a row of Republicans.
His opponent, Richard C. Bozzuto, meanwhile, was charging through the bleachers at the Westport fund-raiser with his coat off, hugging children, kissing their mothers and reaching out to shake every hand he could.
Buckley and Bozzuto, opponents in Tuesday's Republican primary in Connecticut, are as dissimilar as their campaign styles.
Buckley is a millionaire who has many friends in Washington. Bozzuto is a scrappy infighter whose friends are his back-home chums.
Buckley is making his first foray into Connecticut politics. Bozzuto has been active for more than 20 years, working his way up to become state Senate minority leader.
Buckley, 57, a standard-bearer for the national conservative movement, has raised $855,000 in campaign funds. Bozzuto has come up with $160,000.
Bozzuto has spent his time lambasting Buckley on everything from his farm record to his status as a millionaire. In typical statements. Bozzuto says Buckley "preys on the fears of older Americans," "scales new heights in political hypocrisy by intimating support for our nation's farms," and "represents extreme right-wing national single-issue groups."
Buckley ignores Buzzuto and concentrates his fire on Rep. Christopher J. Dodd, the Democratic nominee. Buckley refuses to discuss Bozzuto's campaign, saying he "won't be prodded by needle points."
Buckley is favored to win the primary and to go on to oppose Dodd, who also bears a famous name. Dodd is the son of the late senator Thomas J. Dodd.
Besides having the edge in campaign contributions and name recognition (his brother is William F. Buckley, the well-known conservative figure), James Buckley has his party's endorsement for the seat.
But Buzzuto says he has the people behind him -- the people who resent Buckley as a millionaire outsider who's trying to buy the Senate seat, as Bozzuto puts it.
If Buckley returns to the Senate, he would make political history as the first popularly elected to the Senate from the states. He represented New York from 1971 to 1977, losing his seat to Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Bozzuto has been handicapped by the feeling among many Republicans that only someone of Buckley's stature and reputation can beat Dodd, but he has been helped by the dislike some Republicans have for Buckley as an interloper who is too conservative for Connecticut.
Buckley grew up in rural Sharon, Conn., and always maintained a home there but his political base was New York, where he ran three times for the Senate, winning once.
Buckley, in his campaigning, chooses to focus almost entirely on the issues, painting a carefully constructed ominous picture of the 1980s. He calls for an end to government over-regulation of business and over-taxation of wage-earners, and for a stronger defense and a less isolationist approach to foreign affairs.
He scores Dodd as a big spender and as someone weak on defense. Buckley has tried to separate Dodd from the elder Dodd, saying in radio ads that the father was strong on defense while the son is not. This strategy backfired once for Buckley, and is viewed as a calculated risk.
In a political flier, Buckley said Tom Dodd would be more likely to vote for him than his son. Dodd objected and Buckley apologized. Now some observers think Buckley may be helping Dodd by linking him, even unfavorably, with his father. They note that his father, despite being censured by the Senate for misuse of campaign funds, remained a popular figure here until he died in 1971.