John B. Anderson was beaming today and well he might be.Millions of Americans watched him on television Sunday night; today, for the first time, he was flying by charter jet, his traveling press corps having nearly doubled.
And, thanks to Sunday's event, he had a lively issue: President Carter's refusal to debate.
Anderson predicted voters would "rebuke the president for his disdain for the process" and for placing the "political future of Jimmy Carter [before] the nation."
Joking that Carter must have had a television installed in the Rose Garden, the Illinois congressman said, "very few people remember that it was Jimmy Carter in September 1976 who said, "I would rather make a few mistakes now and then than spend all my time in the Rose Garden.'"
Anderson said the debate gave him a wider audience than he has had before, but "my greatest problem is to convince the American people that an independent can win: This nation has been wedded to the two major parties in a monopolistic grip."
Accompanied by his running mate, former Wisconsin governor Patrick J. Lucey, Anderson attracted a noontime crowd of about 2,000 in the dramatic setting of the Daley Plaza, dwarfed by the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago. The crowd cheered enthusiastically as the snowy-haired orator mounted the podium. Red, white and blue balloons, released on cue, floated above the giant Picasso statue behind him.
While Anderson predicted he would "ride to victory" in the "City of Big Shoulders," he acknowledged that he had no precinct captains here and appealed to the crowd for volunteers.
Anderson bantered good-naturedly with the press at a news conference before the rally, joking apologetically that, unlike President Carter, he had no grants to announce for the city.
In another jab at Carter, he remarked that the only thing that might lure the president into a debate would be "sagging polls. He's had a resident pollster in the White House from Day One. I assume he and his computers have been working overtime."
The independent candidate also attacked his Republican opponent, citing Ronald Reagan's "disdain for urban problems" and adding, "The only thing mr. Reagan wants to spend money on is defense."
By contrast, Anderson cited his support for a transportation trust fund which would be supported by alcohol and tobacco taxes and for a new "billion dollar jobs program . . . which would put young people to work in energy and transportation projects."
In Philadelphia tonight, Anderson received a thunderous reception from about 700 college students who paid $3 each to hear him speak. While the Civic Center was more than two-thirds empty and not a single Philadelphia dignitary shared the platform with him, Anderson seemed undiscouraged.
Reminding the crowd that Philadelphia was the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence he called for a "new Declaration of Independence . . . a message to the traditional political parties [that] this system needs to be shaken up."