Vice President George Bush swept into Los Angeles on Wednesday night. Heavy rain clouds disappeared, while heavy rainmakers (those who help pour money on candidates) showed up in droves for two plush and very private parties. At least $500,000 was raised for GOP congressional candidates--but the conversation kept centering on the '88 presidential race.
The festivities started at the Bel-Air estate of Howard Ruby (the mega-developer and co-owner of, among other things, the nationwide chain of Oakwood apartments). Guests were greeted by platoons of Secret Service agents and by a trio of musicians perched in a balcony of the Italianate villa. More than 400 supporters who gave $1,000 each to Bush's political action committee, Campaign for America's Future, shook hands with Bush and Second Lady Barbara, who were led through the crowd by Ruby.
Clint Eastwood, a candidate for mayor in Carmel, was a no-show, but other campaigns got their shot. Delores Hope, accompanied by husband Bob and their son, Tony, said that she would walk "supermarket squares" for Tony's just-announced campaign for Rep. Bobbi Fiedler's San Fernando Valley seat. William M. Keck II chatted with Rep. Ed Zschau about his senatorial campaign, then switched to the arts, discussing the Southwest Museum with Dr. Norman Sprague and wife, Erlenne, the First Lady's pal. Lockheed's Roy A. and Betty Anderson were part of the crowd in the tent when Ruby introduced Bush.
Unlike most fund-raisers, the atmosphere was expectant and exciting--more the feeling and flavor of an insiders' party for a reigning President.
Ruby's words certainly hyped that feeling as he introduced Bush: "Today we should measure George Bush by the way in which he daily serves the President of the United States and our people. It's not by accident that the toughest jobs that President Reagan has are given to the man in the office down the hall."
The reception ended, and a long line of limos (no self-drive cars were allowed) made their way to the Beverly Hills home of long-time Bush buddies Jerry and Jane Morgan Weintraub. Only staff photographers were permitted inside the "presidential tent" of red, white and blue erected over the drained-for-the-occasion swimming pool. Large baskets of patriotic-colored carnations hung from the rafters, over tables waiting for Chasen's delicacies, like the ubiquitous chili, roast beef and fixings for all-American, make-your-own-hot-fudge sundaes. Jeff Williams of Regal Rents said the recent heavy rain had caused plenty of trouble, but it had stopped and through the clear, plastic sides of the tent, twinkle lights glimmered on bushes and trees.
Irvine developer Don Bren's lieutenants, Jack Flanagan and Gary Hunt (Bren was a major force in putting together the Bush trip), chatted with Bush chief of staff Craig Fuller and public-affairs specialist Donald Livingston. A long-time pilot, Fuller was off Thursday with Bush to Nellis Air Force Base where he would get the chance to fly an F-15.
Standing between the colorful tables, Parker Montgomery said that Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth's decision to stay out of the Senate race was a "great loss," and that Montgomery had assumed the rule of GOP Finance Committee co-chair, taking himself out of the primary races.
Gordon Luce was Barbara Bush's dinner partner. His wife, Karon, was at the San Diego Museum of Art opening of an Ansel Adams exhibit. Luce chairs the museum--but said he just couldn't miss this "special evening" with the Bushes.
Mrs. Republican, Margaret Brock, sat between the vice president and Howard Allen, chairman of Southern California Edison. Always keeping her priorities straight, she asked Weintraub to sign on as a Founder for the Ronald Reagan Republican Headquarters in Glendale. She also kidded Ruby, who's becoming a major rainmaker for GOP candidates, that every Republican in the state had been to his home--except for her--and that they had all paid to do it at recent fund-raisers.
Dick Riordan (finance co-chair of the Crime Victims for Court Reform, and a big Mayor Tom Bradley booster) chatted with Brad Freeman, his partner in Riordan, Freeman & Spogli. They were discussing real estate deals, including their recent acquisition of a major supermarket chain.
No studio executives, except for a table from Weintraub's United Artists, were present. For Weintraub, hosting Bush and this party was like winning his first Oscar. He was ebullient, saying, "Welcome to our home. Welcome home." He thanked the contributors--each of whom at this party had given or raised $10,000 for Bush's multi-candidate political action committee--saying, "as far as I'm concerned, it's for George Bush." He told the crowd, "I'm not a follower. I'm a leader. We're all leaders. But we are following a great couple."