Informal Exchange With Reporters on the 1984 Presidential Election

January 30, 1984

Q. How about a news conference?

The President. What's that?

Q. How about a news conference?

The President. The people will just fall all over in shock if I -- --

Q. We want to talk to the candidates, the candidates who run for the Presidency. We always want to talk to them, sir. [Laughter]

The President. You'll throw me off my whole schedule. ``Big Brother'' is watching there -- Larry. [Laughter]

Q. How do you feel this morning? Are you going to win?

Q. Do you feel any differently now that you're a candidate as well as President?

The President. [Inaudible]

Q. Well, what about the Democrats -- [inaudible] -- on you now, really going after you very strongly.

The President. When have they not been? [Laughter]

Q. Oh, they haven't been. This is a whole new thing.

The President. I think we'll have some interesting discussions.

Q. Do you have any answers? Mondale says that you represent the special interests of the wealthy.

The President. Well, the actual facts and figures reveal that our tax program actually benefits more at the lower range than even the Kennedy tax program back in the sixties; that a higher percentage of his tax relief went to those in the top five brackets than has been true of ours; a higher percentage went to big business than was true of ours. Our tax program was fair. It was fair across the board.

Q. Do you think Lebanon will be an issue? Getting the troops out of Lebanon will be a major issue?

The President. It depends on how long they're there, doesn't it?

Q. Sir, will you debate your Democratic opponent this fall?

The President. I said that in principle I support debates, yes.

Q. You'll debate -- a television debate -- with your Democratic opponent?

The President. Well, yes. It's too early to say anything about this case or how it will work out, but, yes, I favor that idea.

Q. Are you going to win the election?

The President. What?

Q. Are you going to win the election?

The President. Now, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], you know me. I never say anything like that -- too superstitious.

Note: The exchange began at 9 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

In his remarks, the President referred to Larry M. Speakes, Principal Deputy Press Secretary to the President.