Informal Exchange With Reporters on the Presidential Campaign

October 10, 1984

Q. Did Mondale take you up on arm wrestling?

The President. What?

Q. Did Mondale take you up on arm wrestling?

The President. He did?

Q. Did he? I don't know.

The President. No. No, I haven't heard from him.

Q. Do you think the age issue is important, the way they're building it up?

The President. No, I don't. I think it kind of shows again the same kind of desperate reaching for something that they did before.

Q. Mr. O'Neill said you looked tired the other night at the end of the debate. How did you feel then, sir? What do you think of the Speaker's characterization?

The President. I wasn't -- no, I wasn't tired. And with regard to the age issue and everything, if I had as much makeup on as he did, I'd have looked younger, too.

Q. You didn't have any makeup on?

The President. No. I never did wear it. I didn't wear it when I was in pictures.

Q. And do you think you're going to win the next debate?

The President. Well, let's see what happens. I think the truth is on my side.

Q. And what about the Bush-Ferraro -- how do you think that'll go?

The President. Well, we're going to wait and see that one. Looking forward to it.

Q. You're not picking a winner?

The President. No, no. Well, I know who's going to win.

Q. Do you think you lost Sunday night?

The President. What?

Q. Do you think you lost?

The President. I think if someone would go with the transcript and look at the fact that the figures and the facts that I gave were true, and were never rebutted in that debate, and that he kept repeating facts that I had rebutted because they were inaccurate, as a matter of fact, they had no basis in fact at all.

Q. But you did say Social Security -- those on Social Security now, you did not speak of the future.

The President. Well, that was not on my mind, that I was separating that out. I guess that's just the way the answer came out, that I wouldn't. But, no, I meant that, that I've said over and over again. We're never going to take away from those people who are dependent on Social Security, now or in the future.

Q. Do you think the campaign has a new momentum? Do you think it's a new ballgame for Mondale? He seems to have a new spirit -- patriotism.

The President. Well, I don't know. Our figures are holding up very well.

Q. Are we going to see a new Reagan campaign style now?

The President. You get what you see. That's me.

Q. Didn't you change your strategy, in that you did react to Mondale yesterday and previously you didn't? Isn't this a change of strategy?

The President. What's this?

Q. With the Social Security thing. Shortly after Mondale said it, you reacted.

The President. Well, because I am terribly concerned that this demogoguery about Social Security is frightening senior citizens. And there is just no fairness and no rightness at all in leaving these people uncertain as to what their situation is going to be when they have particularly no place else to turn but Social Security. And we're not going to let them down, and I've been saying that since before I was President.

Q. You really think that Mondale weakened the defenses of the country?

The President. What?

Q. You really think that Mondale weakened the defenses of this country?

The President. Well, he hasn't -- --

Q. You say so in a speech today.

The President. Let me say that from reports of many of the people that were part of that same administration, when President Carter in his last 2 years felt that he should start redressing the military imbalance, Mondale advised against it.

All right? I've got to run.

Q. Thank you.

Note: The exchange began at 8:55 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House as the President was preparing to leave for a trip to Michigan.