Obama Calls Mrs. Reagan to Apologize for a Bad Joke

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 8, 2008 | Go to article overview

Obama Calls Mrs. Reagan to Apologize for a Bad Joke


Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

President-elect Barack Obama called to apologize to former first lady Nancy Reagan on Friday after he made an errant joke at her expense in his first postelection press conference.

Mr. Obama, answering a question about which ex-presidents' advice he sought, said he had spoken to all of them that are living. He went on, but appeared to realize he probably didn't need the living qualifier, and explained, I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances.

The joke at the expense of the ailing former first lady rubbed some who heard it the wrong way, and within hours Mr. Obama said he was wrong.

President-elect Barack Obama called Nancy Reagan today to apologize for the careless and off-handed remark he made during today's press conference, spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in a statement Friday evening. The president-elect expressed his admiration and affection for Mrs. Reagan that so many Americans share, and they had a warm conversation.

Mr. Obama seemed to get his facts backward in making the joke, aiming at Mrs. Reagan when it was actually Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton who wrote in her syndicated column during her time as first lady that she occasionally held imaginary conversations with long-dead first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

I occasionally have imaginary conversations with Mrs. Roosevelt to try to figure out what she would do in my shoes, Mrs. Clinton wrote in a June 1996 column. She usually responds by telling me to buck up or at least to grow skin as thick as a rhinoceros. …

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