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President-elect Obama's first gaffe: A slap at Nancy Reagan

In a hasty and wise bit of damage control, president-elect Barack Obama quickly telephoned former First Lady Nancy Reagan this afternoon to apologize for "a careless and offhanded remark" he made about her this morning during his first post-election news conference.

Obama was asked how he was preparing to take over the White House, what books he's reading, if he'd talked to any ex-presidents. He replied:

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan

"In terms of speaking to former presidents, I've spoken to all of them that are living. Obviously, President Clinton -- I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances."

The passing reference to the former First Lady's alleged interest in horoscopes struck some observers as a gratuitous slap at an old lady at a time Obama was trying to set a positive, professed bipartisan tone for his transition.

The Obama press office received numerous inquiries for explanation and reaction. And this afternoon issued the following statement:

"“President-elect Barack Obama called Nancy Reagan today to apologize for the careless and off-handed remark he made during today’s press conference.

"The President-elect expressed his admiration and affection for Mrs. Reagan that so many Americans share and they had a warm conversation,” said President-elect Obama Transition Team Spokesperson Stephanie Cutter."

A complete transcript -- and full video -- of Obama's first news conference as president-elect is available here. The complete news conference video is also viewable by clicking on the Read more line below here.

--Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: Associated Press

 
Comments () | Archives (11)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Who cares? (President-Elect) Obama made an off handed remark - and personally apolygized for it. Nancy Reagan dabbling in horiscopes was a low point in her husband's adminstration. I voted for McCain, but Obama is our next President. Let's talk about real issues.

Don't exaggerate! That wasn't a "slap" at Nancy Reagan, and you know it. President-elect Obama made a little joke that misfired -- for which he has since apologized. No big deal.

It seems Bidens foot in mouth is starting to rub off on Obama.

VJ Machiavelli
http://www.vjmachiavelli.blogspot.com

Hillary, Sarah, Nancy, is Barack Obama slowly ramping down?

A minor footnote to the day, but Obama was wise to apologize. Apparently an attempt at humor, the remark came across as gratuitous. It was also ill timed, considering Mrs. Reagan's recent fall and injury.

How sad that my first comment submitted to this board about this ridiculous article was censored. I used no profanity, just clear criticism. Another exact example why the LA Times is becoming only a shadow of its former self.

The brilliant Albert Brooks wrote on this and pointed out that the little snit some tried to have over Obama making this joke came from the 'Hannity types'.
Honestly, old man, if you want to ape someone, the right wingers on Fox are the last people you should use for this.

Censor this post also. It may offend Mr You Kids Get Off My Lawn.

Obama started to list the presidents he had talked to and had a 'senior moment', he couldn't remember who the presidents were. So he tried to back out of that by saying the 'living presidents' so that he didn't sound like he was claiming to have spoken to all presidents who ever held office. Then he realized it would sound stupid to say living and make it sound like talking to dead presidents was an option. So because of his inexperience and arrogance, he took a slap at someone who he thought was more ridiculous than he felt at that moment. He is a man and not a god.

It matters because President-Elect Obama is supposed to
adapting to his new role as President. To accomplish this,
it is imperative that he appear Presidential.

Needless gaffes divert him from this process. Obama
suppoters may not respect Nancy Reagan, as President
he must.

You may not think this a large deal. President-Elect Obama must think differently, he apologized.

DOES THIS GUY KNOW HOW TO TREAT A WOMAN?

HILLAY
SARAH
AND NOW NANCY???

Apologize for pointing out that the Republicans elected a wakko whose wife convinced him to use an astrologer as a senior advisor?
This is the same president who said at a media event as a mic check "Ladies and gentlemen, I have just outlawed the USSR. We begin bombing in 5 minutes."
I don't think any apology is in order, unless the GOP wants to aplogize to Americans for subjecting us to the sorry excuse for leaders they have produced.

Who cares? While it seems innocuous, his 'joke' was rude and very unpresidential. How long will it be before he makes an innocent, off-handed remark that infuriates a maniacal little dictator with his finger on the nuclear button?


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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