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Friday, January 21, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Rossi finds support, lessons in D.C. parties

Seattle Times Washington bureau

WASHINGTON — Dino Rossi came to President Bush's inaugural celebration this week to remind his supporters at the Republican National Committee that his campaign for governor is still alive.

Amid the pomp and splendor, Rossi will not forget his encounter with two Republicans from Chicago.

"I told them how we'd found out that some dead people from Seattle had voted," said Rossi, laughing. "And they replied, 'So what's the point?' "

It's a good yarn, and Rossi spun it well as he glided around Republican movers and shakers. He watched the presidential parade at Rudy Giuliani's private party.

Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., took Rossi aside to tell him that the GOP would help him in his battle to overturn the gubernatorial election. Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee pulled him over for a friendly chat.

At the Republican Governors Association gala, Rossi was introduced as the "two-time" governor of Washington — "since I won the vote and the first recount," he said, smiling.

"It's been amazing," he said. "I told these folks that I came to say 'Thank you for all your support,' and they are astounded," he said. "I guess people don't say 'thank you' a lot here."

Clearly, Rossi is learning about the state of politics in the nation's capital.

He also learned how one judges parties in Washington. "At Rudy's, they had really big shrimp," he said. "I mean big." Giant shrimp on the buffet is a status symbol in D.C.

Rossi wasn't sure what would be served at the Independence Ball, which the Washington state partygoers attended last night. That ball includes groups from several other states that went "blue" in the presidential election. "Well, even if it's Cheez Whiz on crackers," Rossi said, "it's still my first inaugural ball."

Alicia Mundy: 202-662-7457 or amundy@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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