Informal Exchange With Reporters in Los Angeles, California

January 2, 1985

Q. Mr. President, what about that Soviet cruise missile that was fired over Finland and Norway?

The President. Well, you know, I shouldn't be answering any questions, but on that particular one, let me just say we still have no absolute verification of that. So -- --

Q. Were they trying to send us a message of some kind in advance of the talks in Geneva?

The President. Well, I wouldn't know because, as I say, we don't have any verification yet.

Q. Why were you unable to keep Judge Clark, Mr. President?

The President. This is so current, and I haven't seen you and -- forgive me, I will answer that, and then we won't have any more questions here in a photo opportunity.

I took him into public life for 18 years. He left his own pursuits in private life. And a couple of years ago, he was desirous of getting back, but at my request, he stayed on. Now, I just don't have any -- I'm going to miss him very much -- but I don't have any continued arguments to keep him on longer if he feels he must return to his own -- --

Q. Who are you going to replace him with, sir?

Q. Can you just say what kind of arguments you're going to use with the Prime Minister on the trade deficit?

The President. We won't argue. We're good friends.

Q. But what about the size of that trade deficit and the implications for our own economy?

The President. Our trade deficit, of course, is worldwide due to some of our own economic problems.

Q. Doesn't a lot of it have to do with Japan's barriers?

The President. What?

Q. Doesn't a lot of it have to do with Japan's barriers on certain -- --

The President. No, we've made great progress. But I'll be making a statement on that when the meetings are over.

Q. Who are you going to replace Judge Clark with, sir?

Mr. Hart. Thank you. Please proceed to your left.

The President. No decision yet.

Q. Isn't Mr. Laxalt, your other good, close personal friend, a candidate?

The President. Mr. Laxalt would be a -- Senator Laxalt -- a good man anywhere, but right now I think we need all the help we can get in the United States Senate.

Q. What about your Energy Secretary, Mr. Hodel?

Mr. Gray. Thank you.

Mr. Weinberg. Thank you.

The President. No decisions yet.

Q. Ms. Mitchell [Andrea Mitchell, NBC News], are you available? [Laughter]

Mr. Speakes. Thank you. Let's go.

Mr. Weinberg. Turn to your left.

Mr. Speakes. You've got two more groups to come behind you.

The President. Now, you witness I broke all my own rules here to answer your questions.

Q. Yes, sir. That's one reason that we love to keep asking -- [laughter] -- --

Q. Is that a new tie?

Q. Is that a Christmas tie, Mr. President?

Q. We're admiring your new tie.

The President. Yep. It is.

Q. Do you like it?

The President. I think it's an answer to -- does away with all the jokes about Christmas ties. I think it's beautiful.

Q. Who gave it to you?

The President. Just one of our friends.

Q. It wasn't Mrs. Reagan?

The President. No.

Q. Because I wouldn't say anything against one of her gifts.

The President. No. Then, you'll love the pickup.

Q. But if it wasn't her, sir, I must tell you there's divided opinion about your tie. [Laughter] You think it's beautiful. Others -- --

The President. Well, some have good taste and some don't. [Laughter]

Note: The exchange began at 11:10 a.m. in the library of the President's suite at the Century Plaza Hotel. The reporters were present to observe the beginning of the President's meeting with Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone of Japan.

Stephen T. Hart was a member of the White House Press Advance staff. Robin C. Gray and Mark Weinberg were Assistant Press Secretaries. Larry M. Speakes was Principal Deputy Press Secretary to the President.