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

November 7, 2008 |  4:45 pm

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

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