Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), one of the first members of Congress to support George Bush's drive for the presidency, discovered the price of opposition to the White House yesterday.
According to Regula aides, the congressman had asked the White House for use of the president's box at the Kennedy Center as part of a charitable auction for a hospital in his district. The White House earlier in the week said the box was available Wednesday night for a showing of "Playboy of the Western World."
Pleased, Regula arranged for two Ohio couples to enjoy the perks of the box -- a private suite akin to a living room with bar and bathroom, leading out to enclosed, private seats at the center of the first balcony.
Early Wednesday evening, White House officials called Regula, who had listed himself as undecided on the budget agreement that Bush is pushing, to ask whether they had his vote. Regula told them he was leaning against. A little more than an hour before the curtain was to rise at the Kennedy Center, Regula got another call from the White House. The president's box was no longer available, he was told.
"This thing is getting a little bit tense," Regula said yesterday. "Some staff person made a decision in the heat of the moment. But it's no big deal."