Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks by Telephone at the Annual Dinner of the White House Correspondents Association

April 25, 1981

Mr. Pierpoint. Mr. President, this is Bob Pierpoint at the podium.

The President. Bob, I hope you don't mind, but David Stockman is making me call collect. [Laughter]

Mr. Pierpoint. Well, I do mind, Mr. President, but he's a hard man to talk out of it, so we'll take the call.

The President [laughing]. Okay. Well, I'm happy to be speaking to the White House correspondents' spring prom. [Laughter] I'm sorry that I can't be there in person.

Mr. Pierpoint. We're very sorry you can't also, Mr. President.

The President. Well, I'm up at Camp David. We're getting a little used to it now, but I have to tell you the first time I came to this place, to Camp David, Ed Meese sewed name tags in all my undershorts and T-shirts. [Laughter]

But, Bob, I'm sure your fellow correspondents have already praised you or will soon do so for your year in office. Mark Twain is supposed to have said there's nothing harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example, and you certainly have been that to the White House press corps. Mr. Pierpoint. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. I know that Cliff Evans must be there somewhere.

Mr. Pierpoint. Yes.

The President. And, Cliff, let me send my congratulations to you as one new president to another. If you enjoy your office as much as I do mine, you'll be a very happy and fulfilled man.

Mr. Evans. Well, you stay well, Mr. President, and we'll take care of the pressroom, Pierpoint and I and all of my colleagues. Stay well.

The President. Okay. If I could give you just one little bit of advice, when somebody tells you to get in a car quick, do it. [Laughter]

Mr. Pierpoint. Mr. President, we know now that you are really recovering. You sound terrific.

The President [laughing]. Well, I am. believe me, well on the road and feeling just fine.

Mr. Pierpoint. That's wonderful. Well, let me tell you, Mr. President, there are about—well, over 1,800 people assembled in this room tonight listening to you. And I told the Vice President that they are actually here for him, but you know the truth. [Laughter] We all hoped that you would make it. We well understand that you could not.

Among these people are many of your Cabinet Secretaries. There's only really one that I think is very noticeable by his absence. I haven't seen Secretary Haig. I wondered if you've been watching television tonight. We are a little worried who's in the Situation Room and who's in control. [Laughter]

The President. Well, I'll tell you, wherever he is, I have every confidence in him. [Laughter]

Mr. Pierpoint. Very good, Mr. President. We really appreciate your call.

The President. Well, if I could be serious for just a moment, there's someone who isn't there tonight and yet, in a sense, I'm sure in all our hearts is. And I'd like to give the phone to Nancy for a moment to say something, and you'll understand when she does.

Mr. Pierpoint. Thank you.

Mrs. Reagan. Hello. I really want to say-this is a message to Sarah, and Sarah, I hope you're there.

Mr. Pierpoint. And Sarah is here, Mrs. Reagan. I believe she's over at table 45. [Applause]

Mrs. Reagan. Oh, good.

Mr. Pierpoint. Sarah Brady is now standing up, Mrs. Reagan. And as you can imagine, she's receiving a very warm round of applause.

Mrs. Reagan. Sarah, you remember those days in the hospital when you and I had many conversations. And we both agreed that you and I, from now on, had a bond that was very special and that nobody could ever break. It was just something between you and me that was ours. And I want you to know that you've never left my thoughts and my prayers, and all my love and all my prayers are with you as they always have been. And I know that both our fellows are going to make it, and I send you and Jim all my love.

Mr. Pierpoint. And we all join you, Mrs. Reagan in those thoughts to the Bradys. [Applause]

The President. Bob, thank you very much. Could I just say.-

Mr. Pierpoint. Mr. President, the entire room is standing and applauding Sarah Brady.

The President. Well, could I then suggest something?

Mr. Pierpoint. We're having a little trouble hearing you because the applause is so loud in this room for Sarah and Jim Brady.

The President. All right.

Mr. Pierpoint. I think the President would like to sign off if you'll all be seated.

The President. Yes, I'd like to say just one thing before you sit down, and that is, as long as you're standing, I know how close to all of you is "The Bear," and certainly Nancy said it, there isn't an hour that he isn't in our prayers. Why don't we raise a glass to "The Bear's" health and to Sarah?

Mr. Pierpoint. That's certainly a fine idea. Everyone stand, please, and let's raise a glass to "The Bear" and to Sarah. To their good health.

We've done it, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you very much. Mr. Pierpoint. Thank you for calling.

The President. Well, I'm looking forward to the next news conference. I have so many questions to ask you all. [Laughter]

Mr. Pierpoint. We've got a few for you too. And have a very pleasant weekend, and don't work too hard on that speech for Tuesday night.

The President. All right, and good night and enjoy yourselves. God bless all of you. Mr. Pierpoint. Thank you.

The President. Thank you.

Note: The exchange of remarks began at approximately 8:15 p.m. in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel. Also speaking were Robert C. Pierpoint of CBS News, president, and Clifford Evans of RKO General Broadcasting, incoming president, White House Correspondents Association.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks by Telephone at the Annual Dinner of the White House Correspondents Association Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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