The hello-my-name-is tag read "Larry Agran" -- and if the name did not mean a lot to people attending the Maryland Democratic Party bull roast yesterday in Timonium, the paste-on tag's second line was intended to help: "Presidential candidate."
Mr. Agran, former mayor of the 110,000-population city of Irvine, Calif., and the better-known Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin -- two of the announced candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination -- shared top billing at the event.
The presidential hopefuls glad-handed their way around a building at the state fairgrounds, greeting about 700 Marylanders they hoped would remember them and perhaps tell their friends.
"I know Larry Agran isn't a household name. But I do believe that it will be as I go to the towns and cities and campaign for real American priorities that begin at home," the former Irvine mayor said as he milled about the room filled with red, white and blue balloons and tablecloths.
Mr. Harkin, while still not a household name, had about 50 sign-carrying supporters, all wearing "Marylanders for Harkin" T-shirts with the words "Give 'em Hell" on the back.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer told the crowd that now is the time for Democrats to step forward and announce their intentions for running in the 1992 presidential election.
"The Democratic Party has to find out who the candidates are. That doesn't mean saying, 'I'm thinking about running, or maybe I'll announce.' No matter how good a governor he is," Mr. Schaefer said, referring to the uncertainty surrounding the intentions of New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo.
"The time is now," Mr. Schaefer declared.
Mr. Agran's remarks opened with a lighter tone. "Folks don't know me," he said. "Larry who?"
But he turned to much more serious matters in calling for military spending to be cut in half and using a resulting $150 billion in savings to "rebuild America." Cities and towns would receive $25 billion in aid -- $478 million for Maryland, he said.
"The cities and towns would decide how to use the money," he said. The crowd applauded as Mr. Agran said $15 billion would be earmarked for federal assistance to schools.
Mr. Harkin received enthusiastic cheers as the tall Iowan climbed the stairs of the stage with his brown cowboy boots.
In a booming voice, the senator asked what would be a good name for the new governments of Communist countries. And what, he asked, would be a good name for a government that bankrupts the nation and spends massive amounts on weapons?
"I have a suggestion. My suggestion is that they call themselves Republicans," Mr. Harkin said.
He preached traditional values and getting back to the American dream of each generation doing a little bit better than the one that came before it.
He claimed that in eight years of a Harkin White House there would be an American flag flying above new highways, better schools and health care facilities where people can "get care without going broke in the process."
The cost of the bull roast was $25 a ticket -- just enough to cover the costs of the event, according to Tom Cowley, the Maryland Democratic Party's executive director. It was intended as a chance for Marylanders to meet the candidates and not as a fund-raiser, he said.