Remarks to Reporters Upon Receiving a Thanksgiving Turkey from the National Turkey Federation

November 18, 1981

The President. This, of course, is a great tradition, of Thanskgiving in our country, and I'm very happy -- we used to do this all the time in California, with the California association. And they came to the office, and I had a few adventures there, too. Finally one day they turned to the custom of actually bringing it in cooked, and we would have a lunch right there with the staff in the office. But I had to carve it for all those gentlemen and ladies of the press with their cameras on me. And I remember one day I was carving, and I thought they hadn't cooked it very well, because there was a lot of blood appearing, which didn't look very appetizing. I found out I'd cut my thumb. [Laughter] Sort of spoiled lunch.

Mr. Walts. Sort of spoiled lunch, yeah.

Have you been in touch lately with Merv Amerine, who used to fly you around down -- --

The President. Oh, the turkey plane? I haven't seen Merv for a long time.

Mr. Walts. Haven't you?

Mr. McClain. I've seen Merv in April. I was out to the California board meeting.

The President. What we're talking about here is a sort of in-house -- a gentleman named Merv Amerine in California in the '66 campaign when I was running for Governor. We chartered his plane, a DC - 3, for part of the campaign, and found out that when he hasn't chartered it to us -- he was a turkey grower and was using it to haul turkeys. And now I don't want anyone to say the obvious thing that comes to mind, that he hadn't really changed -- [laughter] -- in that new charter.

Well, thank you very much.

Mr. Walts. Oh yes, Mr. President. We're delighted to be here, and it's certainly a pleasure to see you again. And I think you know that the National Turkey Federation is very solidly behind your programs and you.

The President. Well, thank you very much.

I'm sorry to be so late for all of you in this, but on the other hand, I was just getting even, because down in Texas there, I sat for 3 hours before any of them showed up -- --

Mr. Walts. And still didn't get one. [Laughter]

The President. And still didn't get one.

Reporter. What are you going to do with him?

The President. Eat him.

Q. Why don't you pet him first?

The President. Well -- [laughter] -- --

Mr. Walts. He's all right.

The President. I'll sneak up on him, kind of.

Mr. Walts. Sneak up on him.

The President. Hey, look over there.

Didn't think it would work, did you? [Laughter]

Mr. McClain. Yeah, I didn't think it would work.

The President. Well, over the years you get used to turkeys. [Laughter] [To the turkey] But you're the real thing.

Q. What are you going to do about your personnel problems, Mr. President?

The President. I don't have any personnel problems.

Q. What about Mr. Allen? [Richard V. Allen, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs] Do you still have confidence in Mr. Allen?

The President. Answered all those questions and all that needs to be said.

Q. Sir, we're just not sure what you know. You say on the basis of what you know you think he has done nothing wrong.

The President. But you know that it would be -- there's no way that you can comment now while this is still evidently under review. So, I just feel that I'm not in a position to comment.

Q. But you first learned about it last September, we understand.

The President. Yes, and then it was investigated. And it was reported that everything was fine.

Note: The President spoke at 12:43 p.m. to reporters assembled in the Rose Garden at the White House. Lew Walts, executive vice president, and Hugh McClain, president, National Turkey Federation, also participated in the ceremony.