Franklin D. Roosevelt

Remarks at a Reception for New Senators and Representatives.

March 10, 1943

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker! (Laughter)

SPEAKER RAYBURN: Mr. President, you have given us a grand party, and we have all enjoyed it. You have met Senators and Members here tonight that it is hard for you to meet.

THE PRESIDENT: I don't know why "Father" Rayburn wants to put you all to bed so early. (Laughter)

SPEAKER, RAYBURN: Well, now, it has been perfectly grand for all of us too, I know, for the new Members—108 of them—to meet and greet you, and we have enjoyed it very, very much. It is most gracious and fine of you to do it.

And now, if you want to say "good night" to us in any form which you desire, why we are all ready.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, all you "freshmen"—some of whom are older than I am! —it's grand to make your acquaintance.

You know, during the last Congress things were pretty busy at the White House, and I honestly believe there were thirty to forty of the new Congressmen in the last session whom I never met at all.

I know perfectly well that you realize some of my problems. You don't really get the truth from the columnists, because they say that I am overburdened and overworked. I am not working as hard, so far as appointments go- so far as seeing people goes—as I did before the war started, nothing like it.

Now I haven't an excess of "gray matter," but I do have to have a little bit more time to think and to read. The amount of literature that I get from the General Staff, the needs of the Army, and manpower, the size of the Army and Navy, and things like that, the amount of stuff that I have to read today does take an awful lot of time. And it limits my schedule in the morning when I see people- to about five or six people- five or six different appointments in the course of the morning, instead of the ten or fifteen, or twice as many as I used to put in before the war. And that honestly is the only reason that I can't see you people of the Senate and House as much or as often as I used to. It isn't because of any greater burden on me, but it's the necessity of doing more reading. In some ways I feel as if I had gone back to school. As far as the work goes, it isn't any heavier, but it's a little bit different character of work.

And so I know that you will bear with me and be lenient, if it takes any of you who want to see me about something important a long, long time before you can get in. You will have to take the will for the deed. I am doing the best I can. I do wish to goodness that I had more time, as I did before, to see personally the members of the House and Senate.

I think that part of it is my fault, so my secretaries tell me. When somebody comes in on a ten-minute appointment, I start to do the talking. I get enthusiastic, and the result is that at the end of ten or fifteen minutes my visitor hasn't had a chance to get in a word edgewise. And that is something I am trying to school myself to omit, to try to let the other fellow talk, instead of my doing it. And that is about the hardest thing I have to do in this life, because as some of you who have been here before know, I love to talk. It's an unfortunate characteristic.

So I say, please bear with me, and if you do come in, say to me quite frankly, "Now listen, before you talk, Mr. President, let me have my say." I think it would be a grand thing.

I do hope, honestly, that you will come in and see me, just as often as you can get by!It's grand to see you. Thanks ever so much for coming.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Remarks at a Reception for New Senators and Representatives. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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