Sunday, September 23, 1984

Small Rally Crowd Chants on Cue
Reagan's Ill-Fated D.C. Drive Opens

By Sandra Evans
Washington Post Staff Writer

In the middle of the rally, D.C. Reagan-Bush Chairman Clarence McKee reminded the crowd about how to rally right.

"After each speaker, yell 'Four More Years' five times, and then 'Reagan, Reagan, Reagan,' " he instructed the group.

And the 150 or so ralliers at Lafayette Park—predominantly young, predominantly student, predominantly white—did so. Many waved small, plastic American flags.

It was the-kickoff of the D.C. Reagan-Bush '84 campaign, something akin to the launching of the Titanic, except that nobody knew ahead of time that the famed ship was going to sink.

In D.C., they know.

"We [Reagan-Bush] may win everything but D.C.," said McKee after the rally, a conclusion made with evident satisfaction, despite the admission of the obvious about Reagan-Bush prospects in the overwhelmingly Democratic capital city.

For the most part, the Reagan rally was carried out in peaceful coexistence with encamped demonstrators in Lafayette Park, a favorite protest spot because it is located across from the White House.

But Ellen Thomas, who says she has been part of an anti-nuclear vigil in the park since April, chanted for peace through some of the speeches. And David Manning, a bearded, shirtless herb farmer from West Virginia, got into a yelling match with one young rallier.

"I shouldn't have been shouting at them," Manning said later. "I just wanted them to know there are 12 people fasting here," he said, referring to a group in the park protesting conditions at a District shelter for the homeless.

Many of the rally participants were students from area colleges, particularly George Washington, Georgetown and American universities.

James R. Henry, president of the George Washington College Republicans, said most of the students involved in his group are freshmen and sophomores. A recent poll taken by a university professor showed the freshmen to be considerably more conservative than juniors and seniors, Henry said.

Eric Emery, a GW senior who plans to study business in graduate school, said he decided to become involved in the campaign mainly because he supports the president's policies on nuclear disarmament.

Emery said he comes from a family of Democrats, and joked that if they knew of his involvement, they might "cut off my tuition."

Paula Gutkin, president of the American University College Republicans, said Republicans are still far outnumbered by Democrats on campus. But, this year's group "is the most we've ever had since the beginning in 1972."

Meanwhile, Republican National Committeewoman Lois DeVecchio had her own method of appealing to the youth vote.

Saying the president deserves as good a welcome as Michael Jackson DeVecchio raised her left arm in salute, sporting a proper lady's white cotton glove.