Exchange With Reporters on Foreign and Domestic Crisis Management

March 25, 1981

Q. Sir, could we ask you if -- [inaudible] -- Secretary Haig -- [inaudible] -- and do you have a meeting of the minds on his role in your administration?

The President. Yes. As a matter of fact, as you see, I have a piece of paper in my hand.

Q. What was it that you wanted to tell us?

Q. Answer any question.

The President. Well, you are going to have a press briefing in just a few minutes in there, I understand, with my friend Mr. Brady, and this is a statement that I have left with him to read to you. But I will read it to you now, myself or give it to you -- my own statement. And then he will take the questions there in the press briefing that you might have.

``One of the principal responsibilities of a President, as we all know, is the conduct of foreign policy. In meeting this responsibility, let me say what I said a number of times before: The Secretary of State is my primary adviser on foreign affairs, and in that capacity, he is the chief formulator and spokesman for foreign policy for this administration. There is not, nor has there ever been any question about this.''

Q. [Inaudible] -- about his testimony yesterday about making public his unhappiness on Capitol Hill, Mr. President?

The President. [Inaudible] -- further questions.

Q. Mr. President, why, when you're in charge of foreign policy and you're in charge of Government, do you need a crisis manager? I mean, aren't you the ultimate crisis manager?

The President. Yes. That is why I have authorized such an office. It has no conflict whatsoever with what I just said. Crisis having to do -- it could be with an earthquake, it could be with a flood in any one of our States, a disaster of that kind. There has always been such an office in the White House, and normally the White House adviser, the national security adviser, has chaired that. We thought it was more appropriate to have the Vice President, if I am not present -- to have the Vice President do that.

Q. [Inaudible] -- for the Secretary of State yesterday?

The President. Well, as I say, there is no conflict between what I have just said and between that.

Q. Did Haig ever threaten to resign, Mr. President?

The President. No, never once threatened me.

Q. Mr. President, can't you give us your own reaction to what you read about the Secretary's testimony on the Hill yesterday? You said before that you're not happy about airing public unhappiness -- --

The President. You've got my reaction.

Q. Well.

The President. My reaction was that maybe some of you were trying to make the news instead of reporting it.

Press Secretary Brady. Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: The exchange began at 1:40 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House as the President was leaving for several hours of horseback riding at Quantico Marine Base, Va.