President Reagan and Nancy Reagan's Interview with Chris Wallace on May 18, 1985



and all about going back and forth from them and it's but I meant more even like in addresses on national TV when you're in the Oval Office and you're reading right into the parameter I mean you don't appear to be reading at all well you know you can see dimly that little lens image by the glass right so you try you do kind of a with peripheral vision you try to keep your eye as much as possible on that spot on the teleprompter while your voice it's just fine with me the only thing object to is you go vote off that light you can take them out of Hollywood right but what did that what did you say gobo off that light mr. president mmm what did you say go blow off that level what's that name well that's well then like Mallory when there's lighting a scene and then they only want let's say say that right there they only want the top half of it right in there then they have on the same kind of racks like that they have big black bars every bars and then they run one of those up and then say gobo off and they have lights in Hollywood they're called the Broads and in you should see the visitors when somebody yells out – cameraman yells out hey gobo the broad sounds like some kinky thing that they do in Hollywood yeah you know I did a long interview with with Jimmy Stewart referred the archives of the Kennedy Center for the you know having won the award and we were talking about screen tricks and he said that for Destry rides again that that Marlena Dietrich taught him that when you're when you're taught when you're facing somebody to look at to look both of them in just one eye did they you ever learn that there was instead of me looking at you both of your eyes where I end up sort of flickering back and forth to just look at one eyes than my eyes will remain steady as I look at you well I know they didn't eat the answer is better also for the stage I know that in the stage to keep from being diverted many performers will look you in the forehead like I'm looking now it was that really in the forehead before head throughout that same reason so your gaze is that all no I say that some on stage have done that that there's been an old stage trick to keep from being diverted or anything to really yeah oh no oh no honey that's it Tara that's a terrible trick to do I know it's terrible but they don't is it we doesn't have I heard her microphone it looks it looks ugly I hate the moon I I'd hate to think during Hellcats of the Navy that you know this great romantic movie that you were actually looking at mrs. Reagan's warden with one of their actors that do that I you see then you see or you haven't got something to playback right right in reality I should have explained though this is a trick Oh ditz throw somebody odd for Mizzou you oh boy that's me yeah that would really do it wouldn't it behind you you're looking at me and I'm looking up at your eyes and you get you're getting nothing on your command lucky if you got a microphone you know I don't know about this obedience school that lucky wanted you did you sure that she passed not so lucky you were cured of that you went to their dad hey no not before the 24 that's certainly not me that's the first time she's hey Nate lucky don't bite the the use of the suppose there's something up here at Camp David did make sure woof that's the first time she's done that since what a training is kind of you know Shuster as a pup and you try to get down there to her face and she want – she got your gauze and the blankets and everything ah you don't need it [Laughter] he did you kidding no I'll be done somebody else did too she hasn't got a lipstick that's my class my glass doesn't have any ice in it that's my glass oh and lucky was in there yeah I see well it's all in the family that's right you know germs that they get passed around are you guys what are we doing okay it appears to an observer that after 33 years of marriage you two are still absolutely nuts about each other mrs. Reagan how do you plead guilty guilty explain it I mean it isn't it seems to be an extraordinary relationship how do you explain it we're happy but why does it work so well I'm gonna have a crack at that yourself well I think I think we work at it gonna be a long interview I don't know how to answer it I just well I don't know as far as it from a man's standpoint and far as I could say is I think Clark Gable once said the line to someone and said there's nothing more important than approaching your own doorstep and knowing that someone on the other side of the door is listening for the sound of your footsteps and do you feel out every day as you come home yes and are you sitting there waiting it is an extraordinary relationship and I asked you about about Camp David I have the impression that you generally come to Camp David without visitors an important guest that you you generally come just the two of you off by yourselves that yes some people get the sense that you two really are happiest when you're off by yourselves well we're surrounded by people all week long and it's like you have to be by yourself to recharge and and have time alone Chris I guess I guess we are happiest when we're I know that when I was a bachelor in Hollywood I was a frequenter of the Friars Club you know my fellow actors go there for dinner and all of that and I stopped going to the Friars Club after I got married that's the biggest compliment he could tell you I guess with all the pressures of your job now if we could talk seriously just for a moment how does mrs. Regan act as a as a as a pressure-release from that you know I mean how are you able to sort of let your hair down with her with with her in a sense that that it it rejuvenates you and it allows you to go back and face the next day well you're asking questions that are they're kind of hard to put in words they're kind of things that just happened we we do get along and we I'm glad to hear that I know that during the day and we'll even before this job whatever I was doing something would happen and the day and the first just thing that would go through my mind was picturing myself telling her about it when I got home is that kind of what makes it complete going home and telling mrs. Regan yes what happened yeah do you ever fight we disagree you don't fight fight to me means throwing plates and you know no sure of course there's nobody that you're going to agree with all the time even your husband what's the last thing you disagreed about I'm mr. president one of the basic issues were examining in us in this program is whether after a rough start mrs. Reagan has grown in self assurance and self confidence do you over the four and a half years that she has been first lady see a change in mrs. Reagan yes and it is a case of growth I think things that once bothered her excessively and could really get to her don't anymore she takes them in stride and some of the unfair criticisms and so forth and I guess she kind of treats them now like we we used to treat well an unfavorable review of a of your part in a in a in a picture do you you dusted it off said as long as the people buying the tickets like that they saw how it counts do you do you feel that you've grown during the four and a half years yes yes I do but I think I think anybody who doesn't when they're in this weather in this position this I don't know how you could not grow given all of all the circumstances all the people you need all the places you go all in all the experiences you have you have to grow it seemed to me mr. president I hate to bring this up but I think I but he's going to but I am going to I believe it is true that mrs. Reagan's standing in the polls is even higher than yours is right now and I can understand the head and didn't vote for me I voted for her and some people said after the trip to Europe that she was the star how do you feel about Cajun elite taking second billing as long as it is to her I'm very happy know that well no I mean that's nice and everything but but but he had all the hard work she would disagree but that certainly isn't a fight by the way that I see most wives fight during the economic summit I think it was the first dinner much of that dinner apparently was spent talking about your wife's drug efforts and the first lady's conference and out of that summit came a decision that there's going to be an international crackdown on drugs what did that mean to both of you to see mrs. Reagan's work being taken so seriously on an international level meant a lot to me well indeed it did to me also I told them about it because obviously there so many of them had a personal interest because there you know the wives that had come here to be with her on that particular international episode there were about 18 countries seventeen other first ladies joined you and then on that subject so I reported to them there at the dinner at opening night about this and how successful it had been and was Margaret Thatcher that then spoke up first and said well you know why don't we and it was unanimous they all joined in so that it became something that the summit is now going to also carry forward I've been asking another tough one in terms of trying to put something into words but I know you've always loved this lady how does it feel though when you see her organizing and carrying off major drug conferences and going off not as the wife of but on her own to see the Pope and to have a you know an audience what does that mean to you what what's your feeling from that well I'm very proud and very pleased that she is doing that as I know how much it means to her and no I don't feel that I've been left behind in any way you don't miss her at all and when she oh yes I miss her particularly if it's overnight I don't sleep very well well then that well understand the next day when you're sleepy that that's because she was away mr. peasant I believe it's true that you have suggested that mrs. Reagan suffered more emotional trauma from your assassination attempt than you did do you believe that I think that it took her longer to heal than it did me and I can understand that the actually what's happening to you and you I was confident that I was going to be all right and all but it is harder I'm sure it would be for me harder to stand by and see someone else and and the worried that goes with it do you believe that's true mrs. Reagan I'm sure it took me longer yes I'm sure there was a that there was a period of shock that I wasn't that I was not aware of that I was in for a long time that he was aware of other people were aware of but I wasn't back at it back at edge it just pictured the difference all right it's happened to me and I'm there and I know and I'm going to the hospital and so forth but then the difference of someone at home and what's a normal routine day and someone walks in and says what has happened it's got to be a lot worse than it is to the person that had happened to which one of you do you think still thinks about it more I know she does know I don't I do and and I know that mrs. Reagan still is constantly worried about security yes but when anybody ever asked me about security and Secret Service and doesn't it bother me and so on and I say not at all I'm very happy to have them if it weren't for it for them I wouldn't have a husband are you aware of what a strain that is for her still when you go off on a trip that that that's always in the back of her mind something could happen yes I can understand it very well because like when she went off to Rome what do you think was on my mind being because of obviously the terrorist threats – hmm so how do you live with that well I think we both have a great deal of confidence in the people who were in charge of their security I did a little checking before she went away really you did yes what what did you check wanted to make sure that there was plenty of it oh did you not know that I didn't know that and you really I mean personally hands on wanted to make sure that that she'd be safe there mm-hmm and I know thoroughness I have to say that my remarks were really unnecessary because those in charge that had the same thought and we're doing everything that should be done I think the only danger she had in Rome was from Marcello Mastroianni not one of those good-looking Italian men no mr. president how much do you rely on mrs. Reagan's advice on matters of personnel and policy well we we certainly talk about things like that was I said earlier we talk about everything and sometimes we disagree on on someone or their particular qualifications or something but never very seriously in it's good to talk about it and have other input just as I also do that and not that I'm in love with the cabinet in the administration to him but but obviously this is a special relationship and this is the person you talk to you more than anyone else and how how important is her advice on serious matters well very important absolutely yes mm see yes that and I feel better always knowing that we're in agreement on something mrs. Reagan has told us that she thinks that she's a little tougher and perhaps a little smarter about staff than you are smarter well you said that you saw things that – your husband doesn't see in fact I think you use the expression soft touch do you think that's true that she perhaps is a little more discerning of who's maybe pursuing their own agenda well she has a great confidence in feminine intuition and I don't discount feminine intuition either but I do think that there are some things that – maybe male and female do see from different angles but if she says to you you know I think so-and-so is maybe not doing the right job how seriously – do you do you take that well I don't remember anyone ever saying that about a job or something it has there but they're doing the job because I'm in a position to know what those jobs being done I think it's more and sometimes questioning whether loyalty should is all that it should be things of that kind and if she questions that well I'm aware of that then and I think probably keep my eyes open all right some people have suggested and I wonder what you both think of that that that while you're very happy confronting hard issues that that that complaining about you the schedule or facing someone down who you think hasn't done a good job that that you're not very comfortable with that and that perhaps you are more willing to take those those hard tasks on and then your husband maybe do it for them and is there some truth to that you asking me well why'd you ask him first okay well I think there's some unpleasant things that always add that have to be done when they have to be done in human relations that aren't very pleasant and and yes I I I don't like that me I try to be understanding of everyone's viewpoint of the other fellas viewpoint and so it see it yes it's difficult for me if if there is some disciplining that is needed or even some change of personnel it sounds like he does occasionally hope that maybe you'll take that curtain off his hand it's it's it's it's harder for other words I'm a soft touch I think the answer is yes right right do you when when mrs. Reagan is pushing a particular point of view mr. president do you sometimes say no to her yes and do you always take as no as a final note mrs. Reagan yes although I may come back to it a little bit later and try again you you you've seen that wind chill fall back five steps and then try again come in from a different direction and now they're finally at some point is there a no that means that's it that's it yeah sometimes on the policy area how much input do you think you have on policy as opposed to personnel question no no that's not mine that's not my confirm that no what what area and I must say that's what we generally hear which we just change but we have a couple more questions well do you remember her weighing in on that subject well I remember us talking about it and and what could be done and the and it did bother me there are a few things like that that bother when you when I know they're so completely untrue completely false I think wanting a strong and adequate defense should not be used by others to indicate that that you want to start a shooting war I've seen four of them in my lifetime involving our country and I would think one of the hardest things that a president would ever have to do is make the decision to send those young men into peril and see them lose their lives it must be a heartbreaking thing to do mrs. Reagan there have been several times during the last few months where it appeared that you were prompting the President on how to answer reporters questions what was going on there I think at the time of the ranch weather a couple one was the time at the ranch we're doing everything we can and there was also one I think had a Special Olympics event where he was asked about the the airlift of the Ethiopian Jews and you said something like no comment or something and he said no comment and there have been a couple of instances where it appeared that certainly there had the one of the ranch was doesn't run the ranch I remember because it was a question that and I now I don't remember what the question was I think was something about what are you doing in terms of arms control with the Soviets what yes what are you what are you doing to try to thing about yeah and it was a question that had been asked over and over and over again and it was a question that was beginning to really get to me and I really was not prompting what I was really doing was talking to myself it just annoyed me so that I put my head down never dreaming that he would hear me never dreaming but my oneth the truth is I had paused because again being faced that question so many times I'd pause to say well you know what am I going to say to it this time and when I heard her saying that I thought yes that's it when we are we're doing what we can but I'll never talk to myself again she doesn't prompt you know mr. president how good a politician is mrs. Reagan absolutely sensational don't you think so I think you're something well I don't know we both of us we talked about that and there is one thing however lemon you've opened the door for me to say something because it isn't all that important in our conversations I have and from the days when I was a governor I made up my mind then the only way you could live with yourself is if you made decisions on policy on a basis of what you honestly believe was best for the people right or wrong for the people and I informed a cabinet in California of that those have been the instructions to this cabinet I don't want to hear the political ramifications of a decision that we have to make because if you start thinking in that way then that's I think that happens too much in legislatures where the decisions are made on the basis of the political ramifications the next election and so forth oh the only way I think you can live with yourself is you may make us mistake but it would be an honest mistake you honestly believe that you've done what is the best thing for the people but let me ask you looking back to the 84 campaign because we've talked to a number of people like Ed Rollins and Stu Spencer and Dick Wirthlin who say looking back at that campaign and then you certainly you are talking politics in a campaign that that mrs. Reagan is one of the most astute canny politicians they've ever known I mean how I guess what I'm really asking you as a political Pro how good a politician is she well I think when she talks about something of that kind I think that she's reflecting what you could feel is would be the reaction on a brother on a broader scale of more people it's a reaction to what I mean it's a reflection of what the reaction would be to move to some decision so you think she has pretty good antenna in that sense yeah mm-hmm as Reagan some people have suggested that you have been the driving force in your husband's career and that you wanted the presidency more than he did yeah I know I've read that – not true I I thought I married a doctor and then actually he was asked he was asked to run for office soon after we got married and turned it down by the Democrats when he was so Democrat and then when the governorship came along I went along with it but that wasn't something that I had carved out for for our future and certainly the presidency wasn't something that I said you've got to do this no that isn't true that's a matter of fact she was dragging her feet quite a bit about running for re-election in this agency well I wasn't asking that but how'd you persuade her well it wasn't a case of like a steady drumbeat yes really yes let me just say one thing and this neither one of us ever really set out to do what we now find ourselves doing when the when the group came in 1965 after the 64 election when I had supported the candidacy of Barry Goldwater I had always thought that my contribution could be that being a performer and that's well known and able to maybe attract an audience but I could support people and causes I believed him never did I ever think that I would want a whole public office and this group came after the party had been so torn apart in the dissension of that particular campaign with regard to the governorship that the California party was so split that maybe we could have a hand and bringing them together and they kept emphasizing that I could win and our first reaction was you know don't talk foolishness go find a candidate and I'll be very happy to do everything I can to help him but no that's not for us that's not our way of life well they kept on and they kept on until we couldn't sleep and it seemed to be such a total change of our entire life that finally I said what if they're right and what if the this is something and we wouldn't be able to live with ourselves if we say keep on saying no so the deal I made then and with perfect confidence that would not result in my running for office as I said all right if you set it up so that I can accept all the speaking engagements here in California not just political chambers of commerce things of that kind let me for the next six months and I'll come back and tell you for the six months as it were whether you're right that I should be the candidate or whether there's somebody else and I'll continue doing what I've been doing in the past and they did that and I did my best about there when people come up after a speech and say you know you ought to do this not say no and I'd start talking someone else and I finally came home one night and said they're right I I think I do have the best chance of winning now it's a case we almost we've I don't think it's true we've almost decided between ourselves that when finally I gave in and said yes I did it with the idea in mind that it was only for the election that when the election was over I could go back to doing what I was doing and I didn't know but but you know I think but people get mixed up as far as I'm concerned and this whole thing of my live pushing pushing him that they don't understand that if he had decided to go into the shoe business I'd be out pushing shoes you know whatever aren't you glad he didn't my next point was that that actually as it's all turned out he's given me the most fascinating interesting wonderful frustrating at times frightening at times but our life I never ever thought I'd have what do you say to that mr. president well I'll tell you it happened to both of us though we was sometime after I'd become governor and we were sitting as were sitting now in the living room and all of a sudden that came from both of us that what we were doing was made everything else we'd ever done seen dull as dishwater and that was the expression that she used and it was true it I never had never anticipated I thought I was really sacrificing something I love doing for something that was really going to be a chore but the that actually instead of just talking about the problems from the outside to actually deal with them and they have a hand and well one man who was a governor back when I was a performer had said to me about his job he said that sometimes he went home feeling ten feet tall and we both felt that way about it since but it is a it's a great opportunity to be of service but it's a and it's a great challenge and yes we're glad we did it let me let me get into one last area if I might mr. president do you think that mrs. Reagan will leave her own mark as a first lady beyond being your wife oh I think she's made such a mark already yeah I saw that on the last trip to Europe but no yes she has and I think there's cars that she's interested in is she grew into that it was very concerned about it and then found out that was in a position to do something about it and yes she's made her own mark and how do you think when it's all said and done she will rank among first ladies well would me number one I know I won't speak for the other people out there I'm done but I did there's one thing I do have to ask you because it's I'm gonna I'm gonna kick myself if I don't when you say when when you were seeking the question of seeking re-election that it was a steady drumbeat can you just explain what you meant by that haha well it's like when when you asked me about personnel that if he says no then all right snow but then a little while later I might come back to them right from another so how did this our decision to seek real life so he would he he would talk about it and I would say gee I don't know and then we let it drop and then he'd come back again so it became it was not what she's saying it was not a cut-and-dried thing that I just automatically was going to do that I hadn't I had my concerns and wonders as to whether I I should do that again and then the more that I'd hear and the more things would happen the more I would come back and say I I just don't know how how we we can't do that ya know and and and at the end in all honesty I have to say I I could understand how how he felt that there was so there was so much more to do that he wanted to do that he couldn't get done in four years and he was on a track that he wanted to see completed and that it was important and and and I felt it was to mrs. Reagan mr. president thank you very much that's Thank You Christian Thank You lucky do you mind uh sitting for still for a minute now that we've wrecked your Saturday winds is used to them well they're very generous I know that this is not the way you would you want to spend your time but that's very great I better put my arm back where it was not matching shots right I must tell you I as you know I have been a big fan of your wife's for many years I think when this show and I'm not just buttering you up because I've done all the interviews now I could say anything I want I think when the shows is completed that what you have seen and a lot of the people who are close to mrs. Reagan have seen that the country is going to say that the country is going to see about her I mean listen when the show is you got about 88 that's right it like sort of like I mean that's that's a hallowed tradition in the south isn't it that governors have their wives then run for governor I think governor Edwards of Louisiana and governor Wallace and Alabama yeah what do you think about that that's not the way I see it you gonna give a sermon like responds if elected I will not serve yeah I guess so I think we're safe

24 thoughts on “President Reagan and Nancy Reagan's Interview with Chris Wallace on May 18, 1985

  1. Nice, funny guy and a good husband and father, who just believed in a bad religion (state capitalism, better known as libertarianism) that harmed many people.

  2. Very strange questions to ask them, more towards the beginning, imho… and they handled things charmingly.
    Love them!

  3. Yes, I've been taught in the past, to look at one eye, I seem to remember, the left eye(but, not sure if that's correct, or that it matters), and it does help one focus better.

  4. Staged ! staged ! choreographed and the american people fall for it everytime this man was there enemy within !

  5. Mrs Reagan had a great laugh!! U can see they adored each other, she was the tough one, he was a softie, loved them both!! Despised their kids, Patty & Ron, who turned on them, xcept for the adopted son.

  6. Nancy Reagan
    Amerikaans actrice en presidentsvrouw 1921-2016 
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    Het is waar dat, als je alleen bent in het Witte Huis het een eenzame plaats is. Groot en eenzaam.
    Origineel: It is true that when you're in the White House alone, it is a lonely place. Big and lonely.

  7. Mrs. Reagan's love and devotion to her husband can't be denied; this much is clear. You can see, however, that she held a strong sense of control and possibly even manipulation over her husband. Her gestures, her side looks as her husband is asked a question is telling in the sense that he knows that he had better answer correctly or else. For Reagan, he's fortunate that she was always in his corner. It's the reason for his success, a great degree of confidence, trust and communication. Not everyone has this, but if they did, anyone could have huge success in their careers and personal life.

  8. What kind of dog is that? He seemed like a cool guy one on one. Reagan and wife remind me of those neighbors who when you move into their neighborhood come and say hello and invite you to a barbecue. I don't think they were total cold asses. That's just my interpretation.

  9. Great interview. Miss the Reagans and the class that they brought to the White House. Quite a contrast since they departed .

  10. As husband and wife, they tried hard to love each other, helped and supported each other and made each other happy mostly. Even teeth and lips will disagree once a while and get along each other again quickly again. As the former President Reagan and the former 1st Lady Reagan, they supported each other to govern by our country America’s own established principles together always too. It’s a interesting interview and learning experience from it too. Criss Wallace was so young that time.

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