Philadelphia Inquirer


Gorbachev stops his limousine,
gets out to greet the crowd

By Ellen Warren
and Susan Bennett
Inquirer Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev bade a spontaneous, flamboyant farewell to America yesterday, showing up late for a final summit talk with President Reagan so he could shake hands with some "ordinary Americans."

Already 90 minutes late for his last White House meeting with the President, [the limosine stopped at two] intersections.

With Vice President Bush in tow, a smiling Gorbachev greeted startled Christmas shoppers and office workers. The sidewalk filled almost instantly with onlookers clustering eight deep in front of one of the city's top power-lunching spots.

uke Zeibert, owner of the restaraunt famous for its chicken in a pot, pickle bowls and influence pedling lobbyists, said he ordered a waiter to [bring a bowl of borsch to the] limo shortly before noon.

But Gorbachev and Bush did not leave the street where they worked the crowd like presidential running mates. "Hello, Hello, How are you? Hello," Gorbachev said again and again in English, thrilling the crowd with his smiles an outstreched hands.

Onlookers applauded and shrieked joyfully. "The guy is a P.R. genius," sai a young woman in the crowd.

"That was very special ... he didn't have to do that," said one stunned woman, who got an unexpected, upclose look at the Soviet leader hundreds of social climbers ha plotted unsuccessfully to see.

"I think he is a very polished politician," said a man in an overcoat. "Someone is much more human when you can reach out and touch them instead of seeing them on television."

"I've had five presidents eat with me in the last 40 years, an seeing him [Gorbachev] had to be one of the biggest thrills for me," said Zeibert. "When he got back in his car, the crowd applauded like Sinatra had just given his greatest performance."

It was the kind of spontaneity that gives security agents angina. "Get your hands out of your pocket!" a Secret Service agent told an onlooker as Gorbachev approached.

The restaurant's bartender, Howard T. McNamara, an amateur photographer who snapped some pictures of the scene, said Gorbachev's KGB guards were even more surprised by the stop, just six blocks from the White House, and had to sprint from their cars, half a block ahead of the limo.

Fifteen minutes later - after an even briefer second stop where Gorbachev only waved to onlookers from his limo - the tardy Soviet leader arrived at the White House where Reagan, without a topcoat, met him at his car and joked, "I thought you'd gone home."

Later, at festive but soggy closing ceremonies for the summit, a rainsoaked crowd applauded Gorbachev as he bade farewell to America by saying he hopes next time "to meet face to face with its great people, to chat, and to have some lively exchanges with ordinary Americans."

As the summit concluded, workers prepared to take down the U.S. and Soviet flags that lined Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.

The manager of the Cafe Glasnost was ready to swap it for the original National Cafe marquee at the J.W. Marriott hotel downtown, where the 6,000 journalists made their headquarters. And the Raisa Navel - a concoction of peach schnapps and orange juice - again became a Fuzzy Navel at the hotel bar.

Thousands of city police, FBI an Secret Service agents and private security men and women may have been relieved at what promised to be an uneventful end to the leader's four-day visit here. But, like Marty Carbone, many wanted him to stay.

I'm happy. I'm getting paid overtime," said Carbone, a Secret Service man who said the expected 30 hours of overtime, at time and a half, would come in handy at Christmastime.