Informal Exchange With Governor George Deukmejian and Reporters in Sacramento, California

November 5, 1984

Governor Deukmejian. This is in honor of the fact that you are the first California Governor to become President of the United States. And so, I've declared this room, from now on, to be the President Ronald Reagan Cabinet Room.

Mrs. Reagan. Oh, George.

The President. Thank you very much, George. I can't tell you -- --

Governor Deukmejian. We're just very, very honored.

The President. -- -- how honored I am by that.

Mrs. Reagan. Very nice. That's very nice.

The President. Even the old friend in the corner.

Governor Deukmejian. Yes. Yes, we even have a friend. This was a gift that was given to me when I first came into office, and we've had that here in the Cabinet Room, as well.

Mrs. Reagan. Is this the same -- --

Q. Want to call a Cabinet meeting? [Laughter]

The President. With the original cast? [Laughter]

Governor Deukmejian. These desks are the same ones that were here when you were here.

Mrs. Reagan. Yes.

Governor Deukmejian. We've changed the chairs and kind of changed the carpet a little bit, but that's the same, yeah.

Q. Well, Mr. President, some of the polls are dropping a little bit today. You getting worried? [Laughter]

The President. I'll just wait for nightfall.

Q. Going to win?

The President. You know, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], I'm never going to say any answer to that.

Q. Even up to the last minute?

The President. Not up to the last -- especially not up to the last minute.

Q. You mean, the last election, the last day, you're not going to -- you're not going to break down and change your mind and tell us if you think you will?

The President. I'm not going to change now.

Q. Mr. President, how do you feel about it being the last day of your last campaign?

The President. Well, as I said yesterday in Minnesota, it's a little like coming up to that last football game and realizing that you've had all 4 years, and that's the last one you're going to play in.

Q. Mr. President, if you're reelected, will it make any difference to you knowing that you never have to worry about the realities of election politics again for your last 4 years? Will it make a difference in the way you handle the office.

The President. No, because I haven't let it make a difference in the way I've handled it up till now. I've had a standard rule sitting down at this table for 8 years and the one in Washington.

Q. You mean you won't be a lameduck on November 7th?

The President. Well, I've always felt that discussing the political ramifications of a measure as to whether it's good or bad for the people isn't the thing to do. You discuss it purely on whether it is right or wrong.

Q. What would be your priorities in a second term?

The President. Well, number one of all, of course, is peace -- disarmament and the reduction in the world of nuclear weapons. But on the domestic scene, to continue with the policies that have led to the growth we now have, to make that an ongoing expansion so that we have a growing economy that'll provide jobs for the people that need them.

Q. Are you going to make a move toward the Russians so that there can be some kind of arms talks?

The President. Well now, Bill [Bill Plante, CBS News], I've always made the move toward it, and I've always wondered why so many people ask me, what are you going to do about it? What are they going to do about it?

Q. Well, do you have anything special in mind if you're reelected?

The President. Well, yes. We're going to pursue the fact that we submitted four different proposals to them -- four different areas of arms reductions, not control -- and they were the ones who walked away from the table. We're going to do everything we can to see if they'll come back.

Q. Well, that's what I mean, sir, if you'll forgive me. I mean, what will you do to get them back? Do you have something in mind?

The President. Well, we won't try to buy them back by increasing offers and so forth. We'll try to convince them that it is to their advantage as well as ours to have a settlement of this particular issue.

Q. You mean you're going to stick with your proposals that are on the table?

The President. Well, we've showed -- we've told them we're flexible on that. When they objected to some things, we immediately said, well, come back and tell us what it is you object to. Let us discuss it. And they wouldn't take yes for an answer.

Q. Sir, do you think you'll concentrate on foreign policy in your second term as much as you've concentrated on domestic policy in your first term?

The President. Well, you have to concentrate on that. That's one of the prime responsibilities of the Federal Government -- maybe a little less attention to some things the Federal Government shouldn't have been doing in the first place.

Q. Are you still going to have trouble with O'Neill?

The President. Who ever has trouble with O'Neill? [Laughter]

Governor Deukmejian. If it isn't too presumptuous of me, Mr. President, I think if you invited the Russians to come to California, they would not refuse at all. They'd want to come here -- --

The President. Yes.

Governor Deukmejian. -- -- and they'd want to visit with you.

The President. Well, as I told a couple of other heads of state from Europe, too, if they'd only discovered America from this side, the Capital would be California. [Laughter]

Q. The arms talks in Sacramento, is that it? [Laughter]

The President. Why not?

Q. Do you like this room? Does it bring back memories?

The President. Of course it does, yes. A great deal done with it -- we've left the subject that has me the most honored and impressed this morning, and I'm deeply grateful to you for this.

Governor Deukmejian. Well, we're very honored that you're here. And, from now on, anybody who comes into this room, whether they be visitors or legislators or anyone else, they will know that this is the President Ronald Reagan Cabinet Room.

The President. Well, I'm very proud.

Mrs. Reagan. That's nice.

The President. Very proud.

Mrs. Reagan. Thank you.

Q. John Wayne is going to preside. [Laughter]

The President. Yes.

Governor Deukmejian. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 9:45 a.m. at a dedication ceremony at the State Capitol Building.