PHILADELPHIA - With the lilting strains of music from the 1700s filling the air, government and business luminaries from Pennsylvania and Ohio mingled last night in the city's historic Carpenter's Hall.
The reception hosted by publishing scion John Robinson Block, co-publisher and editor-in-chief of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Toledo Blade, brought together key figures in Republican politics in an ambiance that would have been familiar to the Founding Fathers (and mothers).
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, Ohio Governor Taft, and Ohio Sens. Mike DeWine and George Voinovich arrived in the building first used by Benjamin Franklin's Library Co. in 1773 and were announced at the entrance by town crier Rich Lalena of Camden County, N.J., who used the formal English of the 18th century to pay homage to honored guests.
"It's all just lovely," said Jan Oreck of New Orleans, who along with her husband, David Oreck, were enjoying a cool breeze wafting across the outdoor patio.
Mr. Oreck, often seen on the cable shopping network QVC discussing his company's vacuum cleaners, provided one of the funniest moments of the night when he was introduced to Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher.
Mr. Fisher, who apparently does more crime fighting than cleaning, asked Mr. Oreck what he did down South.
"Oh, I have a little factory," Mr. Oreck said, sharing a wink with those around him.
At cocktail tables scattered inside the hall and outdoors, light banter and good natured teasing were in order. Guests dined on such delicacies as chicken dijon, cherrywood smoked salmon, and marzipan petit fours in an elegant and gracious atmosphere.
Pennsylvania and Ohio are key battlegrounds in this year's election; so the gathering in Carpenter's Hall, one of the great treasures of Philadelphia's Independence National Historic Park, gave everyone the opportunity to speculate about the campaigns.
For a while, the speculation centered on whether the Bushes, both the former president and the presidential hopeful, would swing by, even if only for a minute. The Secret Service had swept the building, and security was in full force around the complex. But they never made it, apparently absorbed at a Bush family dinner.
Plenty of other dignitaries did.
Pennsylvania Treasurer Barbara Hafer dropped by, as did Ohio Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor. Among the others were Ohio congressman Paul Gillmor (R., Old Fort), and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Deborah Cook.
Among the most charming guests were Philadelphians Vince Dougherty and his daughter Jeanne. Mr. Dougherty was on the subway here earlier this week when he encountered Mr. Block and a group of friends looking for directions during one of their outings this week. Mr. Dougherty joined the group and took them to their destination.
Mr. Block threw the reception in part as a celebration marking the 100 years that the Block family has been in the communications business. A similar reception will be held at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles later this month.