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Marylouise Oates

Democrats Party Republican Style

July 18, 1988|Marylouise Oates

ATLANTA — That extraordinary crowd of fund-raisers who made the heavily financed Michael Dukakis campaign happen linked up with more traditional Democratic rainmakers at two weekend parties here--perfect, except for the reported "calligraphy crisis."

At the Jimmy Carter Center on Sunday afternoon, the trustees and vice chairs of the Presidential and Democratic Victory Fund had smoked trout, a speech about his center from the former President and a lot of talk of unity. Indeed, other major presidential campaign fund-raisers--such as San Diego's M. Larry Lawrence (Gary Hart), Connecticut's Peter Kelly (Tennessee Sen. Albert Gore Jr.) and D. C. attorney Terry McAuliffe (Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt)--have all become part of the happy Dukakis money family. They were lunching with Dukakis familiars like Interscope's Bob Burkett, Nick Patsaouras and Sacramento's Phil Angelides.

"Look around this room," Lawrence said, estimating that many of the people there had written $100,000 checks to the Victory fund, "and they're Democrats, not Republicans."

Many of them had been at the lavish and very private Saturday-night party given by Atlanta publishing queen Anne Cox Chambers (co-owner of, among other newspapers, the Atlanta Constitution). The talk, even from Californians, was about how lavish the evening was--two tents, Beluga caviar, hand-painted plates. And a push for perfection that did indeed cause some confusion.

Seems as though shortly before the party, Chambers decided that the calligraphy on the name cards, directing guests to their dinner tables, just wasn't perfect enough. So six calligraphers gathered around a table in the living room--but they just weren't fast enough. So, some guests related, they got to the table at the entrance of the tent, looked for their cards, but found that they just weren't there--and so they left.

There are a lot of bumps on the road to perfection--especially at a national convention.

ONE-LINERS--Cranky Democrats (meaning those without a presidential candidate or even without floor passes) have come up with this: The ticket should be called "Bentsen & Hedges." Also, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, who was shown on network television on Tuesday driving a car that looked like a Mercedes, became "Mercedes Bentsen."

BUILDING A PLATFORM--Kitty Dukakis will be seated, along with B. A. Bentsen, in one of two matching VIP boxes off to the sides of the podium. Since Mrs. Dukakis recently had neck surgery, a TV monitor will be hidden behind the wall of the box, allowing her to see everything without craning her neck. . . . B. A. Bentsen will be able to catch a glimpse of her husband by looking straight ahead. Breaking with precedent, Texans said, he is set to be on the floor both tonight and Tuesday night, before his nomination. . . . And, still more bugs to get out--network staffers reported cockroaches marching around the giant "podium that ate the Omni" during the weekend.

HOW BIG?--How small is the convention hall? Tiny enough to bring to mind Ronald Reagan's famous line from "King's Row"--"Where's the rest of me?" But don't think of it as a convention hall. "If it's supposed to be a television set, then it works," one old hand said. Another cynic said there was "nothing wrong with the convention that 1,000 hotel suites downtown and 5,000 more seats on the convention floor wouldn't fix."

STAR TREATMENT--California Assemblyman Tom Hayden should take a bow, since it was Hayden and his staff who turned out celebrities for the convention. He signed on a sparkly contingent of younger actors and actresses such as Rob Lowe, Justine Bateman, Hart Bochner, Tom Hulce, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy.

There's no "Beatty, Streisand, Redford or Nicholson," one Democrat sighed. Ed Begley Jr. (who's also a Dukakis delegate) and those active in Central American issues, such as Ed Asner and Robert Foxworth, are expected.

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