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Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times in Santa Barbara, California

April 18, 1987

The President. I want you to know that Nancy and I are very proud and happy to be here. Incidentally, we're neighbors, because just a few miles over the hills there a little ways, why, we have a ranch that's very dear to us. But hearing what Pepper had to say about love, yes, there is so much love here, and we're very proud and happy to be a part of it. And maybe you'd like to know that things like this, people like Pepper and these others here who have made this a reality and this camp out of love, this has been pretty unique and pretty peculiar to the United States. Other countries—this doesn't happen. The government does things in the other countries, or they don't get done.

But I thought you'd be happy to know that this year we have been doing a little talking to some of our friendly neighbors in the rest of the world. And as a result of that, there has been a meeting held in Paris, France [International Conference on Private Sector Initiatives], of representatives from those countries—all those countries, our neighbors and trading partners and those other countries—for them to find out from us how we get things like this done by the people themselves doing it, instead of waiting for a government program. And so, I think we're going to see things like this happening to help people all over the world.

You know, though—I can't resist this—I know I only have a few minutes, because all of us have schedules and things to do.

Mrs. Edmiston. As much as you want.

The President. No, but I just thought, instead of me going on here and talking, just—I can only do this for maybe two or three—but sometimes you must have said to yourself, "If I had a chance, I'd like to ask him if...." Well, why don't you ask me "if," and we'd have a dialog instead of a monolog.

Mrs. Edmiston. Oh, boy!

The President. What?

Mrs. Edmiston. Who's got a question here for the President? Look, they're tongue-tied. [Laughter] You kids have not stopped talking.

The President. What? Who? There?

Mrs. Edmiston. Michael.

The President. Michael?

Secretary of State Shultz' Visit to Moscow

Q. How's Mr. Shultz doing on the ordeal of—[ laughter].—

The President. On the ordeal of what?

Q. The ordeal of the nuclear missiles.

The President. Well, let me tell you, he was just back and came to the ranch Thursday, and we had a nice visit here. He's back. It was a very strenuous trip. Over there they seem to like to hold meetings. He'd be in meetings like 8 hours. But I think there is great reason for hope. For the first time—I don't think anyone's very much—this hasn't been said enough but it's the first time there has ever been a Russian leader who has actually suggested eliminating, doing away with, some of the weapons. There've been meetings before, but it was always to decide, well, how fast a rate should we agree to build more weapons. And this time they are actually suggesting, as we have been, let's do away with some of those weapons.

And he's come home very optimistic, and we're all looking forward to carrying this through to where we can make some start in eliminating these terrible ballistic missiles. And my ultimate goal is, once we start that, ultimately to get rid of nuclear missiles all over the world forever.

Mrs. Edmiston. There's a little boy over here.

The President. Yes?

The President's Plans for the Future

Q. Mr. President, I wanted to ask you: What are you going to do after you finish being the President? [Laughter]

Mrs. Edmiston. Good question.

The President. Well, first, I'm going to come back to the ranch and do some riding. But I think there are some things to be done. You know, someone once said life begins when you begin to serve. Well, I think by virtue of holding this job maybe there are still some useful things that I can do. For one thing, I have thought about the possibility of writing a book so that you could get the true story of what has been going on. [Laughter]

Mrs. Edmiston. That would be great.

The President. But I think there will be some things of that kind—and still continuing to help in worthy and good causes.

Mrs. Edmiston. Will you maybe be a counselor? [Laughter]

Just Say No Program

Q. I would just like to say to Mrs. Reagan: Thank you for your Just Say No program. I think it's—

The President. Nancy, can I tell them on you? Nancy said, "Just say no" in answer to a question from a little girl in school who asked, "What do you do when someone offers drugs?" And she said, "Just say no." Today there are over 12,000 Just Say No clubs among young people across the United States.

Mrs. Edmiston. There's a little boy in a wheelchair that had yelled—over there.

The President. Oh, yes?

Q. I sent you a letter, and I just wanted to thank you for sending me one back.

The President. Well, I was pleased to, and I appreciate your writing. Thank you.

I think I'm getting the signal that I've been here too long. [Laughter] If there were just one more, and then I would quit.


The President's Health

Q. How do you stay so healthy? [Laughter]

The President. Well, Nancy takes good care of me. She tucks me in at night- [laughter] —and tells me to put something warm on if I start to go outdoors without it and so forth. [Laughter] But, no, to tell you the truth—and this is for all of you, and I know how much this means—I was always in athletics. I went to summer camps; I liked that very much. And we have a little exercise room there in the White House that we set up. And every day when I come up from the office, why, I go in to the Nautilus machine and start to work on some of the weights and so forth there, and it does very well.

The President's Nickname

Q. Where did you get your nickname of Dutch?

The President. Dutch? Well, with an Irish father and a mother that was English and Scotch, if I hadn't heard the real story myself, I wouldn't know how I came to be called Dutch Reagan. But my father would come home, and I guess I was rather a chubby baby, and he would refer to me as the Dutchman: "And how is the Dutchman?" And having an older brother, the rest of the kids in the neighborhood it stuck, and I grew up with the name of Dutch Reagan.

Q. It's a great name.

Mrs. Edmiston. Thank you so much.

The President. Well, all right. Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 1:20 p.m. at the camp. In his opening remarks, he referred to Mrs. Pepper A. Edmiston, director of the camp which was a project of Southern California Children's Cancer Services, Inc.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times in Santa Barbara, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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