KITTREDGE, COLO., DEC. 18 -- A team of experienced political chefs will gather around the kitchen table this weekend at Gary Hart's home here in the foothills to cook up what might be called "Instant Campaign."
Elated by the public reaction -- at least among members of the public who flocked around him all week -- to his reborn presidential campaign, Hart came home Thursday and summoned key advisers to help him put at least a few frills on his "no-frills" race for the Democratic nomination.
The Hart campaign today opened a headquarters in Denver and began contacting Hart loyalists in key primary states -- particularly Iowa, New Hampshire, Illinois and South Dakota -- to begin getting Hart on the ballot and assembling campaign organizations and delegate slates.
Eli Segal, the Massachusetts businessman who has handled Hart's campaign finances for years, flew here to organize a fund-raising operation and complete paper work to register the renewed campaign with the Federal Election Commission.
Billy Shore, the longtime Hart loyalist who is now a consultant in Washington, and Sue Casey, a New Hampshire native who moved to Denver to work on Hart's first 1988 campaign, took on the task of opening the campaign office and piecing together the initial state organizations.
Casey said today that Hart was delighted with his campaigning this week in New Hampshire and South Dakota. "We had expected nothing but awful, awful, awful, and we came in sort of mixed," Casey said. "The press was fairly rough, but the personal reaction among the people Gary talked to, and the mail and the calls we're getting here have been really positive."
Advisers said Hart was not upset with negative comments from political columnists and Democratic Party leaders. "Actually, all that stuff from the establishment fits Gary's strategy perfectly," said Los Angeles lawyer John Emerson, a key Hart confidant. "It sets up the 'Rocky' story line, where you say to the voters, you know, 'All the elites are against me, so I hope the people will be for me.' "
Hart's advisers said the campaign will stick to last week's pattern: an ostentatiously low-budget operation with no news conferences or interviews, except in circumstances in which the candidate is permitted to deliver his message without interruption from reporters.
"What you're going to see is Gary Hart basically ignoring the Washington insiders and the press," said Dennis Walto, a campaign advance man. "His message is, 'Hey voter, don't worry what the insiders have to say -- listen to me.' "
During a campaign stop Thursday at a school in Sioux Falls, S.D., Hart gave a sample: "If you're fed up with these media-oriented campaigns . . . then come with me," he said. "A handful of powerful people in Washington are not going to pick the next president . . . . The people of this country are going to pick the next president."
Hart then delighted his audience by holding up two symbols of his new campaign. In one hand was a thin black wallet containing $60. "This is the treasury of the Hart campaign," he laughed. In the other, he held a white booklet with excerpts from his speeches and position papers.
Segal said several chief fund-raisers from Hart's earlier campaigns have promised to help the new bid. The Hart camp also is fairly confident of getting just over $1 million in FEC matching funds in January.