Informal Exchange With Reporters on the Debate Between George Bush and Geraldine Ferraro

October 11, 1984

Q. Are you going to give the Vice President some advice?

The President. No, no. [Laughter]

The Vice President. I need it. I'll welcome it. [Laughter]

Q. You know that Senator Laxalt said that you were brutalized with facts and figures -- --

The President. Well -- --

Q. -- -- before, and that there's going to be a new Reagan with no facts and figures. [Laughter]

The President. No, I had told him that I had done a lot of homework myself, and probably too much of it without sitting back and relaxing.

Q. Are you going to sign the CR with the cutoff -- --

The President. Hmm.

Q. Are you going to sign the continuing resolution with the cutoff in Nicaraguan aid?

The President. I haven't seen it yet or what's coming over here, so I'll wait, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International].

Mr. Gray. Lights, please.

The President. Do you have any questions about the debate? [Laughter]

Q. Okay. What can you tell us? Do you think he's going to win?

The President. All I know is he's done a wonderful job for just about 4 years now, and I expect him to continue doing that tonight.

Q. Did you give him any advice on how to win?

The President. No. He understands how.

The Vice President. I learned the hard way on that one. [Laughter] Right from the master.

Q. Isn't it tougher to be against a woman?

The Vice President. That's what I keep reading. [Laughter] I don't think Barbara thinks so.

Q. Mr. President, Mr. Falwell is predicting that in your second term, he will be able to convince you to put on two conservative-leaning members on the Supreme Court. He's boasting to this effect.

The President. Well, I've made one appointment, and I give that as a pattern as to the criteria that will be employed.

Q. Sir, do you think in any way that your briefers are to blame for your performance last Sunday?

The President. No. No.

Q. You don't blame them at all?

The President. No. And I still say that if you read the transcript, you'll find that none of the facts that I presented were refuted. And my refuting of the misstatements of fact on the other side -- there was no response to them.

Q. Do you feel as though you might want to do something a little differently to prepare for the next debate? Is there something you might do that you didn't do last time or cut out something that you did?

The President. No. I'm just going to be talking about foreign affairs instead of domestic affairs.

Mr. Gray. Lights, please.

Q. What do you think went wrong, then? What do you think really went wrong?

The President. Well, it doesn't seem to me as if an awful lot went wrong. [Laughter]

The Vice President. I know.

The President. I think the incumbent is -- unless he drops a bomb on the other fellow -- is going to automatically be tagged as not having done well because he didn't destroy somebody.

Q. So, you think that the incumbent is always at a disadvantage, sir?

The President. Sure, because he's under attack. I look back now at the times in debates when I wasn't the incumbent and never realized how easy it was to be on the other side.

Q. Are you a little anxious about the next debate, and are you anxious about Mr. Bush's performance tonight? [Laughter]

The President. No.

The Vice President. If he's not, I am. [Laughter]

Mr. Weinberg. Lights, please.

Q. Why are you anxious, Mr. Vice President?

The Vice President. I want to do well. We've got a great record; I've got a President to talk about. And we've got to -- you know -- a lot going for us.

Note: The exchange began at 12:03 p.m. as the President and the Vice President were preparing to have lunch in the Vice President's office at the White House.

Robin Gray and Mark Weinberg are Assistant Press Secretaries to the President.