THE PRESIDENT. I know that assembled in this room are some of the closest friends of Robert Strauss. As you may know, Bob Strauss was involved in the Presidential campaign this year— [laughter] —despite what he would tell you now. [Laughter] You know I'm just kidding. Bob is a very loyal friend. I noticed that he waited a whole week after the election before he had dinner with Ronald Reagan. [Laughter] I'm not going to make a long speech. I have a lot of other very nice things to say about Robert Strauss- [laughter] —at the banquet this evening, but among this group of close friends of mine and Bob's, I would like to make a special presentation to him.
He's done a lot of memorable things to me—I mean, for me. [Laughter] At one of my earliest Cabinet meetings, when I was very nervous as a new President trying to don the aura of a distinguished statesman and a new President, Bob was nice enough to give me a very large picture as a gift. The staff was very excited, and the Cabinet was very interested. It was a beautiful photograph of me with a big black fly on the end of my nose. [Laughter] And now in the future when anyone asks me where I got that portrait, if they need an answer, I would, of course, say, "Oh, that one. Bob Strauss, of course, gave it to me." Well, this evening I want to return the favor. [Laughter]
Let me begin by saying that some of Bob's comments during the last few weeks remind me of something that President John Kennedy said. I think it was right after the Bay of Pigs— [laughter] —along the lines that victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is always an orphan. I was reminded of that recently when somebody said they saw Bob Strauss on the television and one of the newsmen asked him about me. He said, "Well, I understand he did a fair job as President. Of course, I never knew the man personally." [Laughter] I just want to make sure that Bob Strauss never forgets the great and the noble effort that he and I shared this year.
I asked a great man, Lee Kling, to choose an appropriate gift that might be memorable and also evoke memories of the experience that we've had. And I want him to have this beautiful painting by Norman Rockwell. [Laughter] It's entitled, as you may know, those that are close enough to see it, it's entitled, "The Defeated Candidate." And I intend to inscribe it after this ceremony: "To Bob Strauss, thanks for making it all possible." [Laughter]
Well, I'm sure that you would agree, Bob, that this would make a very good conversation piece. Your friends, maybe even some of your clients— [laughter] -will look up on the wall in your office and say, "That's a wonderful picture, Bob. Where'd you get it anyway?" And I'm sure that Bob will say, I hope with a touch of pride, "President Jimmy Carter gave me that picture." And then when his guests say, "Well, why would he give you a picture like this?" I'd just like to be there to hear what Bob would say. [Laughter]
In closing, let me say that, Bob, this beautiful picture is yours, and you have certainly earned it.
AMBASSADOR STRAUSS. YOU know, I believe for the first time in my life I'm going to say I have nothing to say. [Laughter]
Mr. President, Rosalynn, Mrs. Johnson, and all of my friends:
I know of nothing that could give anybody more pride than to be in the White House surrounded by family and good friends and to have let the whole world see the warmth and friendship that exists between Helen and myself and a splendid President and a gracious and lovely First Lady.
Thank you very much.