Informal Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

 

November 16, 1988

 

Q. Mr. President, any thoughts about your last meeting with Prime Minister Thatcher as President?

 

The President. Yes. Sad thoughts, that this will be the last time that we shall meet in this capacity.

 

Q. Madam Prime Minister, do you expect the Bush administration to be substantially different from the Reagan administration?

 

The Prime Minister. Well, first my thoughts are sad. And I thought the ceremony this morning was most impressive, and I shall always remember it. And so, this morning we'll be looking back and seeing what a different world it was when we both began in the early 1980's. But because it's in the nature of both of us, we shall also be looking forward, because although I may not see the President in this capacity again, I'm sure I shall see and talk with him many more times.

 

Q. Do you expect a big difference with the Bush administration?

 

The Prime Minister. Each and every person has their own style in politics. And people who share the same beliefs will put the stamp of their own style on putting those particular beliefs into action. President Reagan has a unique style which the world has come to know and love. George Bush, too, will have his own style. But I think we're all very fortunate in the Western World: For the first time we shall have continuity of policies stretching over a second Presidency following a first, and that gives enormous stability and confidence to the feeling of the world.

 

Q. Will you two stay in touch, do you think?

 

The Prime Minister. Of course.

 

Q. Will you visit the ranch?

 

The Prime Minister. I shall wait for an invitation first. [Laughter]

 

Q. Well?

 

Q. Mr. President, why isn't Dan Quayle coming to the state dinner tonight?

 

The President. You know, I don't get involved in the guest list there, and I don't know why, whether this was some other engagement or not, but -- so I don't know the answer to that. And believe me, he will be welcome anytime to the White House.

 

The Prime Minister. I think he's coming to the lunch. I think he's coming to the lunch.

 

[At this point, a second group of reporters and photographers arrived.]

 

The Prime Minister. How are you all?

 

Q. Good. And you, ma'am?

 

The Prime Minister. Now, this is the last time you're going to take the President and me and this room, so it's just rather special -- very special for us, isn't it?

 

The President. Yes.

 

The Prime Minister. You'll just recall, I think, the first time that we were actually photographed together as being interested in politics was when the President came to see me, when he was Governor of California and I was leader of the opposition. So, he came to see me in the House of Commons, in my room as leader of the opposition. And we talked then about what we wanted to achieve and how we were going to do it. And that was about 1977, or something like that.

 

The President. Something like that.

 

The Prime Minister. Yes. So, we've come quite a long way and done quite a lot together.

 

Q. Madam Prime Minister, may I ask you what your feelings are as you meet with President Reagan as he prepares to leave office?

 

The Prime Minister. They're mixed, obviously. I'm so pleased to see him and have the chance of thanking him for everything he's done for freedom in the world. But, of course, I'm sad that I'll not sit in this position with him sitting in that chair again, because we knew one another before the President was the President and before I was the Prime Minister. And we had the same political dreams and the same ways of achieving them. And we both were just recalling a moment ago that I remember the time when Governor Reagan came to see me in my room in the House of Commons when I was leader of the opposition. So, there are lots of times to recall. But I think the nicest thing of all is it's a very different world now, and a very much better one, and a very much more hopeful one than it was then.

 

Q. You, Mr. President?

 

The President. Yes. And the things she says about the state of the world -- she has played a major role in bringing those things about -- these improvements. And I think when you stop to think today that the unity we have with the other allies in NATO -- I don't think very much of the world can remember when more than four decades of peace have followed as a result of that.

 

The Prime Minister. That was staunch and consistent leadership. The President staked out the ground on which he wished to fight; he stood on that ground. And you fought, and you won.

 

Note: The exchange began at 10:32 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House.