Remarks at the Inaugural Luncheon at the Capitol

January 21, 1985

The President. I'm not trying to play Dean Martin. [Laughter]

Senator Mathias, honorable Members of the House, and distinguished guests, and Members of the Senate, of course.

This has been an historic day, and it's not over yet. Together, we mark the end of one term and the beginning of another. And I want each of you to know how grateful I am for all that you've done -- all the energy and personal commitment that you have mustered in these last 4 years to make our system work.

In the shifting alliances of a free government, we in this room have been intense allies on some issues, while disagreeing on others. But I think the level of respect and courtesy with which we've treated each other speaks well for us and confirms the viability of this great democratic system which is now in our care.

There's been quite a few Inaugurations in my lifetime. I missed Abe Lincoln's but -- [laughter] -- I do remember Calvin Coolidge's. [Laughter] Even though I was of the other party at the time, he was much loved and respected. I was a Democrat in those days.

His Inaugural Address said: ``Our Congress represents the people and the States. In all legislative affairs, they are the natural collaborator with the President. In spite of all the criticism which often falls to its lot, I do not hesitate to say that there is no more independent and effective legislative body in the world. It is, and should be, jealous of its prerogatives. I welcome the cooperation and expect to share with it not only the responsibility but the credit for our common effort to secure beneficial legislation.'' Calvin Coolidge.

Well, I hope we can work together in that same spirit. I have a plaque on my desk in the office that says what I firmly believe, and that is there is no limit to what a man can accomplish if he doesn't -- what he can do and where he can go if he doesn't care who gets the credit.

So, I hope in the days and the years to come that we can move ahead, meet the challenges of our day, thinking only of how much we can accomplish if we maintain our good will and cooperation.

We're very grateful to you for these gifts. And may I offer a toast to all of you here, the Members of the Congress, all the guests who are here with you, and to the best Vice President this country has ever had, George Bush, and to the next 4 years.

Thank you very much.

Senator Mathias. The distinguished Republican leader of the House of Representatives, Bob Michel.

Representative Michel. Thank you, Mac.

Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, and Mr. Chief Justice, your wives, and ladies and gentlemen:

Four years ago, we presented to the President one of the letter openers that was used in opening the Electoral College ballots that came in from the State.

We'd like to do that again this year, in addition to give the Vice President one, but, Mr. Speaker, we're going to spare you any -- we're just going to spare you by not reading the inscription on the plaque because of the number on the Electoral College vote. [Laughter]

There's one other here that I'd like to present to the President on behalf of the leadership of both the House and Senate, Republican and Democrat alike.

Mr. President, you've been very good to come up here to the Hill every once in awhile, not only with official messages, but when you just had an informal word to say from time to time. As you know, beyond this beautiful picture here is a normal route to the House of Representatives. When this Chamber was once the old Chamber, and then as we developed the new Chamber beyond it, there were a set of beautiful bronze doors that were between the two, that are now down in the East Portico of the Capitol.

We have here for you, Mr. President, a likeness prepared by one of our craftsmen here in the Capitol, and also a very special key to those doors, because, as you know, the Speaker pretty well controls this side of the Capitol over here. [Laughter] In the event you want to come up sometime for some reason, for whatever -- [laughter] -- here's the key to the Capitol and to the House of Representatives. [Laughter]

The President. I've just been told we should get out of here. [Laughter] They said I could do anything I wanted on the way out, so I just want to express a very heartfelt thanks. These are wonderful things to have in celebration of this day. And, Tip, do you have a key, too? [Laughter] If you don't, feel free to borrow it anytime. [Laughter]

All right, thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:50 p.m. at the luncheon for congressional leaders and invited guests which was held in Statuary Hall at the Capitol. Following the luncheon, the President and Mrs. Reagan returned to the White House.