WASHINGTON — Republican strategist Frank Luntz works in politics, but he lives in a virtual museum, as dozens of political and media types will see Tuesday night when they arrive at his home for his almost-annual party celebrating baseball's all-star game.
Luntz is known for his work helping such politicians as H. Ross Perot in his independent presidential campaign in 1992, Rudy Giuliani in his 1993 and 1997 campaigns for New York mayor, and Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in their 1994 campaign to take over the House of Representatives.
However, he's also a collector of political, sports and pop-culture memorabilia. Guests walking through his front door Tuesday will confront a collection that only a bachelor could display on every wall of a sprawling home.
``I don't spend it on clothes, on cars or liquor. This is the only thing that I buy,'' Luntz said. ``There's not much open space anymore.''
His collection includes much that's political, including:
— A 1651 letter from English Protestant leader Oliver Cromwell telling his son to fire a political appointee. ``It could have come from George Bush,'' Luntz said.
— A 1912 letter from Teddy Roosevelt talking about his good standing in a poll just before he decided to run for president again. ``It's the oldest mention of survey research I've ever found,'' said Luntz, omitting the fact that Roosevelt went on to lose.
— A 1950 letter from former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill telling a supporter not to put away the campaign material just yet, foreshadowing Churchill's successful comeback the next year.
— A handwritten letter from stripper Blaze Starr recounting a tryst with John F. Kennedy. ``I don't want Christian conservatives not to come to the party, but it includes her drawing of herself with her top open,'' Luntz said.
Then there's the Wall of Shame, highlighting some of the more infamous times when newspapers boldly got it wrong, including:
— An 1876 headline announcing Samuel Tilden's defeat of Rutherford B. Hayes for president.
— An article the day after William McKinley was shot quoting his doctors explaining how he'd recover, and another from six days later quoting the same doctors saying he never had a chance. ``It's the first example of White House spin,'' Luntz said.
— A 1912 front page stating that all on the Titanic were saved.
— The 1948 Chicago Daily Tribune front page with ``Dewey defeats Truman."
— The 2004 New York Post headline that John Kerry had picked Dick Gephardt as his running mate.
— A voting machine used in Palm Beach County, Fla., in the disputed 2000 presidential election, autographed by former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.
In addition, there's a lot of baseball stuff, including a bat signed by 48 Hall of Famers and a card collection including such players as Walter Johnson, Lou Gehrig and Sandy Koufax.
``This was the collection that got me hired by Giuliani,'' Luntz said, recalling that he took an album of his best baseball cards to a job interview with fellow fan Giuliani in 1993. ``We spent most of the time talking about baseball. When our meeting was almost over, I said, `Wait, I haven't told you how I poll, what I do.' He said, `Don't worry about it, you're hired.' ''
Finally, there are a lot of knickknacks from pop culture, including:
— A blackjack table autographed by every film actor who's played James Bond.
— A Confederate uniform from the hospital scene in "Gone With the Wind."
— An electric chair from the "Addams Family" movie. ``Some people are disappointed when they find out it's not from the TV series,'' Luntz said.
— A guitar autographed by Simon and Garfunkel, and another signed by none other than Giuliani and Dick Cheney.
Note: Not invited to Luntz's party? Dejected over the closing of the Smithsonian's Museum of American History for renovations? Take heart. About 150 of the Smithsonian's prized items are on temporary display at the National Air and Space Museum. For details: http://americanhistory.si.edu/exhibitions/exhibition.cfm?key=38&exkey=892