Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at the Reopening of the Press Briefing Room at the White House

November 09, 1981

Mr. Brady. It's nice to be back. I was told I was going to say hello to you and that was it. Hello, good friends. [Cheers]

Reporters. Hi, Jim. Good to see you.

Mr. Brady. We tried to run over Sam [Sam Donaldson, ABC News] out in the street. [Laughter]

Mr. Donaldson. If you can't beat 'em, run 'em down. [Laughter]

Mr. Brady. That's right.

[At this point, the President and Mrs. Reagan entered the Briefing Room.]

The President. Well, aren't we overwhelmed by the grandeur of the place? First, let me welcome all you orphans home. You know, we sort of missed you. It's been quiet over here, kind of like when the kids go back to school. [Laughter] You know, of course, this press room is still built over a swimming pool. Now, it isn't true, however, that the floor has been hinged-

Mr. Brady. Yes, it is. [Laughter]

The President. —and can be sprung like a trap. Not that you would ever ask the wrong questions. [Laughter] But if you should, we have installed one new feature. The place is wired for sound. We can press a button here on the podium and get instant helicopter noise in here. [Laughter]

No, seriously, we have added one feature that will help Larry and David in answering your questions. This microphone now has a built-in scrambler, and before you say-don't say, "Are you using it now?" I'm not. But knowing your great interest in one subject, you'll have plenty to write about. We have new china at the snack bar. [Laughter]

Although this press room is often filled with lightheartedness, I don't need to stress the serious and essential role you play in our democracy. The public depends on you to keep them informed about what we're really doing here and expects you to keep an eye on the Presidency. And, Sam, that doesn't mean you can put a ladder up to the third floor windows. [Laughter]

As happy as we are about reopening today, we are even more elated by the presence of a man who truly belongs in this room, a man whose courage has been an inspiration to all of us. And I'm proud that Jim Brady is my Press Secretary. Jim, we're all waiting for the day that you're back for good. [Cheers]

Mr. Brady. I am, too, Mr. President.

The President. Jim says he is, too. So, in dedicating these new facilities, let me just say that I hope this room is always filled with as much integrity and good humor as Jim Brady has brought to it. And now, I've been looking forward to cutting this ribbon. I've been practicing all morning on Ed Meese's tie. [Laughter]

And, of course, you know that with us here is Jim's wife, Sarah, and his mother, Dorothy Brady, and Sarah's mother, Francie Kemp. And we're delighted that you could be here for this.

Now, are you ready, Jim?

Mr. Brady. I'm ready when you are, sir.

The President. Here we go.

[At this point, the President and the Press Secretary cut the ribbon.]

Mr. Brady. Nice job.

The President. Now, I was told that I had to get right out of here and go back to work. It seems that you and I are going to be meeting in the next 24 hours or so.

Reporter. When is that press conference, Mr. President?

The President. It's tomorrow, I think, isn't it? [Laughter] At 2 o'clock, tomorrow.

Reporter. You can't give us an advance word on your budget-cut package? A little something for the overnights? [Laughter]

The President. Why, you all know from the way you act about it, I can't say anything until they tell me what I'm supposed to say. [Laughter]

Reporter. We'll say it's an unnamed source. [Laughter]

The President. Jim, good, good to see you. And I'm going to have to run along here now.

Mr. Brady. All right. Take care, Mr. President. Thank you.

The President. Bless you.

Mr. Brady. [Speaking to Mrs. Reagan] Am I still your "Y and H"?

The President. The husband is always the last to know. [Laughter]

Mrs. Reagan. Do you know what the "Y and H" is? You know when there was that story going around that—well, I'm not even going to go into it. [Laughter]

Reporters. Oh, come on. [Laughter]

Mrs. Reagan. Well, anyway, I kept calling Jim my "Y and H"—my young and handsome. [Laughter] He's still my "Y and H."

Mr. Brady. Thank you.

Mrs. Reagan. See you later, "Y and H." [Applause]

Mr. Brady. All right.

Reporter. It is all under review. [Laughter]

Reporter. Jim, you come back and see us, okay?

Mr. Brady. I'll come back.

Reporter. Real soon.

Reporter. Good show, Bear.

Mr. Brady. Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International] said all is forgiven. I can come back. [Laughter]

Ms. Thomas. Thank you, Mr. Press Secretary.

Mr. Brady. You're welcome.

Reporters. We miss you. We all miss you, Jim.

Mr. Brady. I miss you, too.

Reporter. Yeah, these other guys aren't as tough. [Laughter]

Mr. Brady. I miss most of you. [Laughter]

Note: The ribbon-cutting ceremony began at 12 noon in the Briefing Room at the White House, which had been closed for repair and renovation since August. During the 3-month period, reporters and several White House staff members were moved to the Old Executive Office Building, where the daily press' briefings were held.

The dedication ceremony marked the first public visit to the White House Briefing Room by Press Secretary to the President James S. Brady since March 30, 1981, when he was wounded during the attempted assassination of the President outside the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Reopening of the Press Briefing Room at the White House Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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