He was in the South, which is unusual for the candidate.Otherwise, the stop had all the hallmarks of a John B. Anderson campaign swing.
There was the mandatory campus appearance -- at the university of North Carolina. There was the customary bad luck. It rained, forcing a rally to move indoors. There was the "unpopular cause" of the day. Anderson, appearing in the middle of tobacco country, came out four-square against smoking and price supports for tobacco.
Then there was the usual whimsical touch. The campaign announced it was opening "the first solar operated political campaign headquarters in the world." Workers, it said, could "type on a solar electric typewriter, listen to solar stereo, watch the news on solar-operated television and even drink coffee and tea made with electricity from the sun."
The only trouble was the rain had kept anyone from installing the solar panels, so the whole thing didn't work.
And, of course, as in every Anderson stop in recent days, there were the inevitable and unending questions about why Anderson isn't going anywhere in the polls and what he intends to do about it.
"I can do what the editors of New Republic said this week in endorsing my candidacy," Anderson said. "'Those who are for him ought to campaign like hell and give their money until Nov. 3.' And if all the people who are for us would do that and not to be mesmerized by the polls, we can win."
In short, Anderson's first visit to the South in two months didn't start well.
But it would be a mistake to think his trip to this university city was a failure, or that there were no good omens for him. First, it was front page headlines in the Daily Tar Heel student newspaper: "Anderson Edges Carter in Mock Vote." Then, an editorial, four-pages back, said the Republican congressman represents the same "legacy of idealism" as Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy.
Anderson waved the newspaper proudly in the air at a rally at the university's Memorial Hall. "It is a very well known fact through the years as Chapel Hill goes so goes the nation," he said.
This was a political white lie, Anderson is not doing well in national polls, and a poll by the Charlotte Observer in early September found he had the support of only 6 percent of North Carolina voters.
But the students didn't notice. More than 1,600 of them packed the hall, filling up the aisles, sitting on window sills and spilling outside into the rain. They chanted, "We Want John. We Want John."
Anderson, obviously pleased, borrowed a quote that Leon Jaworski, the former Watergate prosecutor, had used in endorsing Republican candidate Ronald Reagan Monday, to justify a vote for his independent candidacy.
Jaworski, Anderson said, had told reporters that it was "better we have a competent extremist than an incompetent moderate in the White House. . . . There's got to be a betteer choice than that in 1980."