Detroit — Congressman John Anderson, independent candidate for president, is traveling in Europe this week. But his presence is being felt at the Republican National Convention here.
There are an estimated 45 convention delegates who remained committed to him. He long ago released them to go with other Republicans because he no longer is running as a party man. But most are sticking with him -- at least until Ronald Reagan is officially nominated.
Asked if her father had issued any guidelines to his delegates here, Eleanora Kettler, one of Mr. Anderson's daughters who is here in support of Equal Rights Amendment demonstrations, answers flatly: "No, because my father is no longer running as a Republican."
Why, then, do Anderson delegates bother to come to a convention that is virtually sewed-up for Mr. Reagan?
Most will tell you they never even considered staying home.
As one puts it, "I didn't say I'd only go if Anderson were the nominee -- none of us knew at the time he'd be running as an independent."
As much as anything, they insist they are still hoping to persuade party regulars that moderates represent a GOP voice that must be heard if the party is to survive.
Jeanne Bradner, an Illinois delegate, was chairman of Anderson's GOP presidential campaign in his home state. She insists that "We came because we cared enough about the Republican Party." The party has held her allegiance for 25 years.
She considers last week's move to the right in the GOP platform "suicidal." The present state of the party is not just a passing phase, but a "watershed," says Mrs. Bradner. She and the 22 other Anderson delegates from Illinois, the largest state delegation for the congrressman here, have met regularly since the primary to map their convention strategy.
She says they hope to present some "centrist" resolutions for the party to consider, "make some noise" about what is in the platform, and influence Reagan to pick a more moderate vice-presidential choice.
"At this point it's a philosophical question," says Chicago banker Hamilton Talbert, an Anderson delegate attending his fourth GOP convention. "I wouldn't say I'm hanging in for Anderson as much as fighting for a more moderate Republican position."
Delegate William J. Boyd, a high school administrator from Chicago's north shore, says he sees no glimmer of hope for a moderate influence on the party and also plans to support Mr. Anderson all the way.
Mr. Talbert, a lifelong Republican -- "which is more than Regan can say," he declares -- says he will re-evaluate the situation after the convention. "Reagan has earned the nomination," he explains, "but we certainly don't share the same political views."
Jean Bradner is similarly noncommittal.
"We're here to find out if the party wants us and whether it will make some changes," she explains. "If in the end we're as disgusted as we think we're going to be, then maybe we're ready for a centrist party. . . . But it's going to be up to the Republican Party to throw us out. When my friends say, 'Where were you when the Republican Party went down the tubes in 1980? I'll say, 'I was right in there fighting.'"