Informal Exchange With Reporters While Viewing the Presidential Election Returns
Q. Mr. President, have you won the election?
The President. What?
Q. Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International] wanted to know if you've won the election, sir.
The President. I'm not going to say anything until they tell me it's official. And I've never known a projection was official.
Q. Well, do you think you're likely to win?
The President. Well, let's say I'm cautiously optimistic.
Q. What do you think of that—
Mrs. Reagan. I'd go along with that.
Q. How are you feeling, Mrs. Reagan?
Mrs. Reagan. I'm glad it's over.
Q. How's your head?
Q. —the bump?
Mrs. Reagan. My bump is gone.
Q. Are you feeling well?
Mrs. Reagan. Pardon me?
Q. Are you feeling well?
Mrs. Reagan. Yes, I just bumped into a chair.
Q. Is it making you dizzy at all, this particular bump?
Mrs. Reagan. No, it's tender, you know. I got out of bed to get a blanket. It was cold.
Q. Aha! He was cold, you say? [Laughter]
The President. I was?
Q.—keep your eyes on the blanket, Mr. President? [Laughter]
Mr. Speakes.1 We've got two waves to go, so you guys keep up a little bit—
1 Larry M. Speakes, Principal Deputy Press Secretary to the President.
The President. I helped her with the blanket, and then I helped her up. I caution all of you, in those fancy rooms where the bed is on a platform—with a step down after you—
Q. Are you happy?
Q. On a platform bed?
Mrs. Reagan. Yes, it was a platform bed. And those are dangerous, you know, when you're in a strange room and it's dark and you get up. And I just took a header.
Q. I hope you feel better soon.
Mrs. Reagan. Pardon me?
Q. We hope you feel better soon.
Mrs. Reagan. Thank you.
Mr. Speakes. Can we get all the bigger cameras in? Sam [Sam Donaldson, ABC News], do you want to come over here so we can get the cameras?
Television Announcer. ABC News now wishes to project the State of Maryland as the Presidential—[ inaudible]. The State of Maryland for President Reagan.
Mrs. Reagan. Oh, isn't that nice?
Q. I thought that was a Democratic State, Mr. President.
Television Announcer. We now have a projection from West Virginia in the race for Governor, and our projection is that Senator Jay Rockefeller—
Q. Well, Governor, Senator.
Q. He was a Governor.
The President. A little while ago the projection was the other way.
Q. Mr. President, all three networks have projected you as the winner. What's your reaction, sir?
The President. Well, as I said, one of cautious optimism. I'm going to wait until I get it official.
Q. What does "official" mean, sir?
The President. Well, when they say that the count is definitely in—they've totaled and that's that.
Q. Mr. President, assuming you do have a very broad and deep mandate, what are you going to do with it in your second term?
The President. We're going to carry on the program that we started 4 years ago, accompanied with economic growth without inflation, a strong defense—every effort we can make to get arms reductions.
Q. Well, to what extent do you think you can do something new to get the Soviets to resume negotiations?
The President. Well, everybody keeps asking what are we going to do. They're the ones who walked away from the table. What are they going to do?
Q. Do you expect big shakeups, sir? Are you going to change the Cabinet—a lot of new faces?
The President. Well, no. I know that always there are people who have stayed as long as they can take away from their own careers and want to leave, although I haven't heard of any who have said that to me. But I would not be surprised by that. But I don't know of any—
Q. Let me ask Mrs. Reagan on camera how she feels—can we get the lights—
Q. Lights, please—
Q. Mr. President, what do you think the vote really means? Do you think that the country has gone conservative?
The President. I think that there has been a change, and the Government has seen a—
Q. Pardon me?
The President. I think the Government has seen other policies that failed, and there's been a growing tendency to become more aware of the intrusiveness of the Federal Government and its continued expansion in power, and I think this is what's happened. And they see now that a different course is—
Q. Mrs. Reagan, how do you feel? You bumped your head yesterday—
Q. Tell us what happened last night.
Mrs. Reagan. Pardon me?
Q. You bumped your head. How do you feel?
Mrs. Reagan. I feel fine.
Q. You seemed a little wobbly, Mrs. Reagan. Are you a little dizzy?
Mrs. Reagan. Well, if you bumped your head, wouldn't you feel a little wobbly?
Q. Yes, but what happened?
Q. What happened?
Mrs. Reagan. I got out of bed to get a blanket, because I was cold. And the bed was on a platform, and I just misjudged, and I took a header and landed on a chair.
Q. Are you going to be downstairs for the celebration tonight?
Mrs. Reagan. Sure.
Q. What are your thoughts about being First Lady for the next 4 years?
Mrs. Reagan. Well, as long as I'm with my friend here. [Laughter]
Q. Are you happy he's won?
Mrs. Reagan. Of course I am.
Q. Are you going to say he's won, even if he doesn't?
Mrs. Reagan. Oh. [Laughter]
Q. I think you have.
Mrs. Reagan. Oh, Chris [Chris Wallace, NBC News], you tricked me. [Laughter]
Q. Mr. President, in your second term, do you think you'll get a chance to go to the Soviet Union? Would you like to?
The President. Well, whether the meeting is held there or someplace else, I have felt the need. Yes, it's time for us to get together and talk about a great many things and try to clear the air and the suspicions between us so we can get down to the business of reducing, particularly, nuclear weapons.
Q. Any new or different initiative on spending, Mr. President?
The President. To continue trying to make the Government more efficient, eliminate extravagance and useless spending. That's why we're studying very carefully the Grace commission recommendations.
Q. Mr. President, are you planning to go to Asia in December?
Q. That's what we heard.
The President. I haven't made any—
The President. I haven't made any definite plans yet.
Q. How about tentative?
Mrs. Reagan. How could you go in December? That's Christmas.
Q. Australia. What about Australia?
Mrs. Reagan. That's Christmas. December's Christmas.
Q. I guess that means no, doesn't it?
Q. Italy's nice. [Laughter]
Q. If you are reelected, will you propose a summit with Chernenko?
The President. Well, we've been in constant touch with them, in communication, and they know that we're interested in carrying on discussions with them; and they profess to be eager to do the same thing. So, let's wait and see if they'll be more specific and definite once the campaign is over.
Q. What would you—you've never lost an election—you've lost some primaries—but what would you say to Walter Mondale? He must be feeling awful tonight.
The President. Well, I'm sure he does. I'm quite sure that there isn't anything I could say that would make him feel any better. I hope that we can close ranks for the good of the country, and—once the contest is over.
Q. Do you feel sorry for him?
The President. Well, yes, I think if you're in the race at all, you know how someone would—how you'd feel yourself. So, you can certainly sympathize with someone else.
Q. It's better winning than losing, though, isn't it? [Laughter]
Q. Thank you.
Q. Congratulations, Mr. President.
The President. Thank you.
Note: The exchange began at 5:30 p.m. as the President and Mrs. Reagan were watching the election returns on television in their suite at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.
Earlier in the day, the President and Mrs. Reagan left Los Angeles and went to the Veterans Memorial Building in Solvang, CA, where they delivered their absentee ballots. They then returned to Los Angeles and the Century Plaza Hotel, where they remained overnight.
Ronald Reagan, Informal Exchange With Reporters While Viewing the Presidential Election Returns Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/260735