Thank you, thank you, thank you, as always. It is great to be here. I see some old friends, new friends. It's really great to be here. You were on the USS Ronald Reagan today, which is super. I am one of the few people who actually has a commissioning ring. The captain keeps on trying to steal it from me because he doesn't know where I got it, but I have one anyway. But again, it is really an honor to be here and, as I said, to see some old friends and certainly meet some new ones and have you all here visiting the USS Ronald Reagan.
Did you all love it? Was it something?
I remember, I think, when we were home-porting her a couple years ago, and the captain at the time said to me, "Would you like to take over the helm, Mike?" He said, "You're an old boat racer. Come on," and I'm thinking, "Yeah, I used to drive like a 38-foot offshore boat. This was 1,192 feet." And he said, "No, take it over. Just turn it and take the wheel from the young man behind it." I turned around and looked. The young man behind it, he could have been my child."
And I asked how old he was. He said, "Eighteen and a half," and you think that the 18 and a half, 19-year-old, and 20-year-old children, kids, young men, adults, if you will, of this country are keeping us safe each and every day, and what a fine, wonderful job they do, and how lucky we are to have them in this country. And of course, serving in the Navy and the Marine Corps and Army and Coast Guard and, you know, all the other branches of the service, and of course, here on the USS Ronald Reagan, it is a great pleasure to have them there, and I love them.
I love coming down and visiting the ship. I remember Bill Goodwin, who was the first captain of the ship. The first young sailor who got on the ship said to him, "My God, this ship is really big," and Bill said, "Yes, it is very big." He said, "Well, how long is it?" Bill said, "Well, if you get at that end of the ship and you run as fast as you can to that end of the ship, when you get there, you score 21 points."
And he tried to tell him it is three football fields long, and it certainly is when you get out there. I hope you wore like soft-soled shoes because that metal surely can get to your feet and your legs and everything else.
I remember the first time I was really on it when we home-ported, I had just had hip surgery, hip replacement surgery two weeks before, and so I was practicing going up and down stairs for like two weeks because I knew when I got on the ship with, what, 20 some odd stories, that they have no elevators unless you are a plane.
So I certainly took the stairs on a regular basis and had a great time with that, but it is a great, great ship, and it certainly is about peace through strength and keeping our country safe and keeping other parts of the world also equally as safe. When the Reagan pulls into port, she does such great good for the area where she is, and, of course, she brings freedom and that knowledge to the places that she, in fact, visits on a regular basis.
My son Cameron, when he came back just before Thanksgiving, flew over to Hawaii and came back on the Tiger Cruise. Those of you who don't know what a Tiger Cruise is, it is when a ship comes back from deportation, they have been deployed, they stop at Hawaii, and they invite family members of the crew to fly to Hawaii and join the crew coming back to home port in San Diego. There was about 1,200 Tigers. It's the children and the wives, spouses of those on the ship.
It's really kind of enjoyable. They do all the great things, and of course, the number-one thing is, gosh, you must love being out here, it must always be like this, the food must always be this good, and, of course, the sailors are all looking at their families going, "You've got to be kidding. It's not always this good. It's good because you're here and visiting," but Cameron had a great time with my brother-in-law Roger and what have you.
I have a good time doing the things that I do. You know, I am a lucky guy because I happened to be brought into the Reagan family at just the right time, three days after I was born, which is really a good time.
I am one of the most confused people on the planet also because I was born German, and three days later, I was Irish.
And if you don't think that's confusing when you go out for a beer, it really can be confusing to be born a Bourgholtzer-Flaugher, you know, from an Ohio couple that is pure German and can end up with the Irish Reagan family, it was just too much for me to take for a long period of my life, but I finally was able to, in fact, get through it.
I think so often that I am so glad that the Carter family wasn't looking to adopt at the same time the Reagan family was, because if I had been adopted by the Carter family, there's a good chance I wouldn't be here tonight speaking with you. I probably wouldn't have an aircraft carrier named after me either. There wouldn't be much, in fact, in my life.
So I'm really blessed that the Reagans, in fact, opened their doors and let me come through the front door of the house, and I can't tell you how many times I've sat there at Christmas dinners, Thanksgiving dinners, and I thought to myself as I look at the table, maybe they should have stayed with adoption. I mean, if they don't adopt, there is no conservative children in this family. You do realize that. Huh?
That's another reason that I, in fact, am here tonight.
You know, I sit there. I do radio. I talk about so many issues. I am able to go out and talk about my father, the great man that he was, and, of course, during this campaign year, I mean, you heard all the things coming across the radio airwaves, but, you know, it's not like the Republican Party was not warned back in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 that there was a train wreck that was about ready to happen to them if, indeed, they didn't become fiscally responsible.
And when you have a President, as much as George Bush might be a nice guy, it's too bad he lost his veto pen for the first seven years of his administration or six at least, because if he had used that veto pen at all, the Republicans would probably still control the House and the Senate of the United States of America and maybe even the White House at this time.
I talk to people who call me all the time, and I listen to some of the shows say, "Well, it's the media. You know, the media is the reason that Barack Obama is the President of the United States. They love Barack Obama," and you can make an argument. Yeah, they do love Barack Obama, but when does the left not love people on the left?
I remember when my father ran for governor. Do they think the media loved Ronald Reagan as an actor going to become governor of the State of California? No, they hated him, but we had a candidate who, in fact, had a value system and was able to articulate that value system and what he wanted to do to make California a better place for everybody, and he was able to rise above the media and the hum of the media.
We just didn't have a candidate who could raise above the hum of the media, and the media, yes, did they help Barack Obama, but we didn't help ourselves very much at all.
I remember the ads back in 1960s when my dad ran for governor. There was an ad taken out by then-Governor Pat Brown, and the ad, it only ran one time, and Ed probably remembers it, but it was an ad where Pat Brown was talking to a 10 or 11-year-old black child, and he was explaining to the black child that he had been a governor for two terms and he was going to run for a third time. Of course, this 11-year-old who I don't think voted but might have voted. He was a Democrat, I guess, and Democrats vote at every age, every place, more than once.
And the little black child looked at the governor, and he said, "Well, who are you running against?" and Pat Brown said, "Well, I am glad you asked because I am running against an actor named Ronald Reagan." The black child went, "You are running against an actor?" "Well, yes, I am." "Well, you know it was an actor that shot Abe Lincoln?" And what's interesting is it showed you what happened then is what happens today. 1960s, the media was absolutely outraged that somebody would run this kind of an ad. The people of the State of California were outraged that you would run this kind of an ad. How can you do that?
Today, you could run that ad. People would say, "Well, it was an actor who shot Abe Lincoln. What's the problem?" That's how we've changed in our values and our culture that you're talking about in America. The culture has completely changed where we now accept everything and anything because we don't want to upset anyone. We don't want to put our values on anybody else, and by not putting our values on anybody else, look at what is happening to America.
I talk about school all the time and education. You know, I'm blessed. My mother, because she was a single mom, couldn't, you know, raise me the way she wanted to. So she sent me to boarding school. That's what they kind of did back then. And when she sent me to boarding school, one of the boarding schools I went to was St. John's Miniature Alcatraz.
Well, it was a military academy. We just referred to it as "Miniature Alcatraz." Run by the Sisters of Mercy.
And there were 40 boys in the class, 4 rows of 10, and there was 12 of us probably would be diagnosed today with ADD, and it took Sister Mary Cyprien 3 weeks to knock it out of you. You just didn't want to have your ADD show up in Sister Mary Cyprien's class, but she was in control. She was in charge.
Today, teachers aren't in charge of the classroom. Somebody else in Washington is in charge of the classroom. The unions are in charge of the classroom, certainly not the teacher.
And when they went to my parents and said Michael is not prepared to go onto the next grade, sixth grade, you know what my parents did? They didn't call their lawyer. They, in fact, instead said, "Okay. If that's what you believe, then we will accept Michael staying back in fifth grade."
Let me tell you. Two years with Sister Mary Cyprien, I went from the Sisters of Mercy to the Jesuits, folks. God was having the time of his life with me. Oh, yeah. Yeah. From Father Palis, Sister Mary Cyprien to Father Palis, it was a great time in my life.
But what's interesting is that Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman stuck to their values. I joke with people. I say, you know, my problem with my parents were that they were born with a birth defect. They were born with a value system in the Midwest where they believed you really should like work for yourself. People shouldn't just give to you, and it all came from both my parents whose parents told them, you know, if, indeed, they are paying you not to work, why work. And what are they doing in Washington? Trying to pay people not to work. Why work?
My parents were true. They didn't talk about it. They lived what they said.
I was speaking at a group called LaGadas [ph]. It is a Catholic CEO organization in Bermuda. Here a couple weeks ago, yeah, folks, Bermuda. Tough job. Somebody had to do it. Ed spoke in Chicago. I spoke in Bermuda. Okay?
But I was there, and we were talking about some things. We were talking about Pope John Paul and my father, and I said, "Interestingly enough, if you look up Pope John Paul and Ronald Reagan, that not only could recite the Lord's Prayer, but here's two people that recited it and lived it." How many people just recite it and never live it?
And the example was when they got to the part of "forgive us our trespassers as we forgive those who trespass against us," what is the first thing Pope John Paul and Ronald Reagan did after they woke up from the anesthesia after being shot? Both of them prayed and forgave the person who tried to kill them. Most people would not do that. Most people would say, "I am not going to forgive that person," and this is the kind of man Ronald Reagan was.
And I look at people today who keep on talking about my father, who really still don't get it. They try to re-create my father in their image and likeness, and they forget to find out what Ronald Reagan was truly all about.
This is a man who lived his life every day through his belief system. He didn't change it day in and day out because he was trying to make someone happy or trying to run a poll or a flag up a pole or whatever it might be. He lived it every single day.
You know, when I was starting my radio talk show and driving to San Diego and back every single day, every single day, 262 miles, my home in Sherman Oaks to San Diego to do my show, I was whining, I was crying, I was feeling sorry for myself. I was playing the victim that I was doing that, and I called my mother on the phone because I just knew my mother would bail me out.
You know what my mother said to me? I said, "Mom, I'm not making any money. I'm driving 262 miles a day. The kids are in school, private school. Colleen is having to work to keep them in school. What will you do?" knowing my mother would help out.
My mother said, "I've got a plan for you, Michael." I said, "What's the plan?" She said, "Shut up, and keep driving."
I said, "Excuse me." She said, "So who died and said you didn't have to pay your dues? How will you know if you're ever a success if, in fact, you never allow yourself to fail or go through these situations?" and I said, "But mom?" She said, "Shut up, and keep driving," and hung up. That was it, and I shut up and kept driving. That was 1992, and I'm now, what, 17 years in syndication with a radio talk show.
You know, I even qualified two years for the earned income tax credit -- Don't you love it? -- because we were trying to get this show off the ground and get it going. Am I doing better today? Yeah, I'm doing better today, but doing better today, now I have a government who wants to punish me for working my tail off for 17 years to get to this position.
And then I have people who are on our side of the equation who are trying to find every way not to agree with each other instead of ways to agree.
I am under the belief almost that there is a lot of conservative groups out there who make so much money espousing Ronald Reagan, they don't want to, in fact, really understand him and try to find a way to come together.
I was saying on the plane on the way down here tonight, what this party has done is vulcanize itself. We split off into all kinds of organizations, and the reason for that is simple. Liberals are led by ideology. That ideology lives 24/7, every day of the week.
Republicans somehow need a leader. If we don't have somebody who espouses what we are thinking, we don't know what to do. Hence, you have Rush Limbaugh on the air. He espouses the things we believe. So 20 million people go there.
Ronald Reagan espoused what we believe. All these people went there. If we don't have a leader, we're all over the map. We're searching. We got to find the next Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan wasn't looking for Abraham Lincoln when he became Ronald Reagan. He was just trying to lead, and I think we do a disservice to our party by trying to find Ronald Reagan because you are never going to find Ronald Reagan. You are never going to find George Washington. You're never going to find Abe Lincoln. You're never going to find Ed Meese. What we want is somebody who is going to lead and lead us out of this wilderness and lead by example, not talk, not preach, but live it every single day of his life, and that is what Ronald Reagan did.
When I talk to young kids at the Young America's Foundation, I tell them that everybody in that room who was not even born when my father was President could go out today and speak on his behalf, anywhere in the country do a Q and A, and they look at me like why. Because my father was so consistent. In everything, he was consistent.
Think about the question. Did it have government in it? Did you know where he was going to go with it? And he put people around him that he could, in fact, trust, Ed Meese, Bill Clark, and others that were there from the beginning. When Ronald Reagan went to Washington, it was real change. He took California to Washington, D.C., and really brought change to Washington, D.C. He didn't hire the old guard. He brought the new guard in that had been with him as governor of the State of California, and so we look for someone to lead us, but, as I said, liberals have that ideology.
The last leader this party had got in Newt Gingrich. He brought us what? He brought us the 1996 big election, took over the Congress.
Newt asked me the other day. He said, "Why is it that Maggie Thatcher could be elected and lose her base, Ronald Reagan be elected, lose his base, and I could be elected and the base goes away? Why is that?" and I said it's really simple. Liberals see elections as a beginning point. Conservatives see it as an end point.
When we get done with the election, November 4th, it's over. We all went back to work. We went back to our jobs, went back to our families. Whatever it is, we went back there, and guess what? The liberals are like termites. They just keep on going. They are still eating the wood every single day, and if we want to win, we've got to look at elections at a beginning point, not an end point. We have got to keep on going to rebuild this party.
And something else, you rebuild it from the ground up. Ronald Reagan never built this party from the top down. It wasn't about being the President and work in this direction. It was about going from the ground up.
When my father announced that he was going to run a second time for the Presidency of the United States, after losing in 1976 -- and by now, you have all heard that story from me. When I ran into my dad in Kansas City, after he lost the nomination, for some reason, I am alone with him in a corner of the room, and I say to my dad, "What are you feeling?" I'd never seen my dad lose anything before. "What are you feeling about not wining the nomination?" "Well" -- I said, "What?" "Well, you know" -- and I said, "What dad?" He said, "Well, I got to tell you." He says, "I wanted to win the nomination tonight to have a chance to be President of the United States for one reason." What was the reason? He says, "For so long, I have listened to the Presidents of this United States sit down with the Soviet Union and the leader of the Soviet Union, and every time we sit down with them, they tell us what we have to give up to get along with them."
He says, "I want to be the first President to sit down with the Secretary-General of the Soviet Union. My thought, I was going to let him pick the chairs, the table, and the place, because that's how those things work out," and he said, "Well, he was telling me the American President, what it was I was going to have to give up to get along with them. I was going to get up from my chair, walk around to the other side of the table, lean over and whisper in his ear, 'nyet.'" I want to be the first person to say "nyet" to a Secretary-General of the Soviet Union.
That was in August of 1976. In October of 1986, in a place called Reykjavik, he was called there by Mikhail Gorbachev, and many people in his Cabinet thought -- and people close to my dad said, "You've got to sign a deal with Mikhail Gorbachev. This is your legacy." And I think one of George Bush's biggest problems was he was searching for a legacy. You never search for a legacy. Legacies find you, if you do your job.
So Ronald Reagan goes to Reykjavik, and everybody is saying, "You've got to sign off with Mikhail Gorbachev. This will be your legacy, a non-proliferation treaty. This is what you've got to do, Mr. President."
My dad went there. Mikhail Gorbachev said to my father, "If you want us to come back to the bargaining table, then you've got to give up SDI or Star Wars." My father looked at Mikhail Gorbachev, and he said, "Nyet." And because he said "nyet," I was able to stand in East Berlin this summer where the Berlin Wall used to stand. I was standing on there because he stayed true. From a story he told his won in 1976, 10 years later, it played out because of the consistency of Ronald Reagan knowing what he wanted to do. It wasn't difficult. He didn't make government difficult.
I tell people he only wanted to accomplish three things. He wanted to end the cold war, lower taxes, and does anybody care what the third one was? Nobody can remember because those first two were so unbelievably great.
Ronald Reagan stood true to those things, and all we are looking for is for that leader who is going to ultimately do that, who is going to hold true to the values that we all hold so dear ourselves. That is what we have got to do, and that is what my father did, and everybody is trying to like make believe that they can re-create him, but when you vulcanize your party and every organization uses my father's as a head to find ways not to come together but instead to stay apart, we are not going to win anything. Ronald Reagan did unit people. He brought people together.
You know, my father wrote a book in 1983. You all know that he is the first President to ever author a book during his Presidency? Did you know that? The book, do you know what it was on? "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation."
Think of the things Ronald Reagan could have written about, but he chose "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation" to let people know where he stood. But it didn't mean that he wasn't going to sit down with people on the other side. He supported his daughter Maureen, pro choice, for Congress, because he said, "I'd much rather have her there than have the other person there, who I disagree with 24 percent of the time," but nowadays what we do is if you're against me on the border, then I'm not going to vote for you. I'm going to stay home. If you're against me on this, we become one.
So it's, again, things we've got to do, things we have to do as a party, as a nation, and we are going to come together by working together, not working apart. Working apart got us where we are at, and we have got to learn to listen.
One thing my father could do was listen, and he listened very well, and because he did that, he was able to accomplish so many, many, many things.
Organizations like this are great organizations, and what you do is unbelievably wonderful. The people that are here, that just separately what you do as an organization, what you do, but it's important that we all work together towards the end result and find out what is the end result, what do we really want, and how do we find common ground to get there, so we can win in the future, because if we don't do that, we are going to be having these dinners a long time, and Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are going to be up there for four, eight years, and gosh knows what's going to come after them.
I don't know about you, but I can't afford them anymore, and they have only been there a month, and so I certainly look to be able to get back to the good old days of the Sister Mary Cyprien's holding me accountable, yes, but putting me on that straight and narrow path that my parents were able to ultimately put me on.
As I said, I had a great life. There are moments in my life, like any other child, you'd like to forget, but you know at the end of the day, you go, "Damn, I'm a pretty lucky guy. You know, I was the won of the President of the United States of America, the son of an Academy Award-winning actress, Jane Wyman." Boy, there's only one person that that's ever really happened to other than myself, and that was Maureen. Nobody else has ever been like that.
And we have a story to tell, and hopefully, we can share the knowledge with other people, but, folks, truly, you know, everything about my dad was about freedom, freedom in this country from government just coming into your lives every day, but on the other side of the world, freedom, to not have to live behind a Berlin Wall or an Iron Curtain and to be able to be free for once in your life.
I love going over there. I love visiting with the people over there because they get it, and you know something, they're scared. They're scared America is not going to be that shining sitting on a hill. America has been the beacon to the world, and if we're not the beacon, who will be? And I think we all know who will be, and we can't afford that to happen to the rest of the world. It's worth fighting for. Thank you so much.
MR. REAGAN: Now we have questions?
ATTENDEE: Tell me a couple of books that are very accurate and readable about your father.
MR. REAGAN: Ed Meese's. I think Judge Bill Clark. Who else? There's a few out there.
ATTENDEE: Steve Hayward.
MR. REAGAN: Steve Hayward. That's just coming out, though, isn't it?
ATTENDEE: One volume.
MR. REAGAN: That is the one volume is out.
You know something that is really true, "The Diaries." Have you read "The Diaries"? There is no better depiction than the diaries.
I got my copy. You know what I did? Went to the back of it, looked up my name. Find out, whew, I hope he was nice to me, and I'm so glad it was Ron that hung up on him. He didn't write down the day I did. So it's really good. So I read all that and said, "Whew, made it through those diaries okay," but get "The Diaries" which is phenomenal.
"The Book of Letters" is great. You really get insight. If you buy a book, I mean, Ed, Bill Clark, whatever, who worked with dad and were there from the beginning, I like talking to people who were there from the beginning.
The other person who was there from the beginning was Ronald Reagan, and his diaries, "The Book of Letters" Nancy put out, unbelievable because it really gives you insight into who the man was and what he was all about.
I mean, this FBI guy over here, I don't know if he's read "The Diaries," but if you read the first entry, the first day of the job, who was in the first entry? The FBI. It's the first thing he did, "We have to do something about the FBI to make it so we're a safer country that we live in," because he understood what the commissions had done to really gut the FBI, CIA, and what have you, the first thing he did when he got it, opened up that diary the first time in Washington. I would suggest getting a copy and reading it.
ATTENDEE: Michael, did your dad ever share with you, things that he would have done different after the Presidency? Did he say, you know, "I wish I had done this different, or maybe this was a mistake," or whatever?
MR. REAGAN: No. I think the only thing -- the only thing that really stuck with him all the way, all the way through his Presidency was Lebanon, the 241 Marines that lost their lives that day on his watch. He always -- he just always felt just -- that really, really got to him because it happened on his watch, and he felt he could have stopped it. He felt he could have stopped it, and that's probably the only thing he would like to change is get those 241 Marines' lives back.
You know, dad shared that with me, and I happened to be with him in certain times during his Presidency too that were pretty, kind of cool. I remember having dinner with him one night. My wife and I were at the Sentry Plaza in Los Angeles, and one thing my dad -- I will explain that in a second, but we were up there, and some guy named Ed Meese called, and Ed Meese was saying something to my father like, "You know, we're doing the war games out there in the Gulf of Sidra, and the Libyan planes are locking onto our boys, and there's a great worry that, in fact, they may, in fact, try to fire on some of our planes. What do you suggest we do?" and my father said, "Well, Ed, you shoot them down."
So I told that to Ed a while back, and Ed said, "Well, yeah, you weren't there at the Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting when we had the same conversation. We were going to do the war games in the Gulf of Sidra, and not only did we ask what happens if they shoot at our guys and your dad said shoot them down, but the question was asked wonder if they shoot and turn and run, your father said chase them. And then somebody else on the Joint Chiefs said but what happens if they cross into Libyan aerospace, what do we do," and my dad said, "You chose them all the way back to the hangars if necessary, but you shoot them down."
Well, that night he told Ed, shoot them down, and of course, then Ed -- because I am only getting half the conversation, but I pretty well am understanding what's being said. Ed must have said to my father, "Should I wake you, Mr. President?" My dad said, "No, you don't have to. You got your orders."
And that night, of course, we shot down one or two of the Libyan planes. Everybody called Ed Meese on the phone the next day and said, "Did you call the President?" Ed said, "Didn't have to." "What do you mean you didn't have to call the President?" "He was sleeping." "What? Sleeping?" "Yes. He said I can make the decision. It was already made, done," and of course, the media just went crazy with that whole thing.
But I remember saying to Ed, you know, Ed, shoot them down, and I don't remember my dad picking up the phone right after that and calling the UN and getting permission to do that. He acted like he was the President of the United States, and that's what he did. And I think that's what we're looking for.
You know, where you don't call the United Nations every time you are going to do something as President of the United States.
You know, when he did the whole thing with Grenada and the whole situation, he kept that secret from everybody, even Lady Thatcher, until halfway through the dinner that night, and Lady Thatcher said, "Ronnie, your plane just flew over my airspace," and my dad said, "Oops." I think my dad sent her a dozen roses, didn't he, to say I'm sorry, forgot to tell you. But my dad knew.
He writes about this in his book in "American Life." He writes about the fact that there's certain Members in Congress who have been known to leak information that could cause American lives, and so he knew he had to play it close to the vest, not let anybody know about Grenada, what was going on. That's why there was no media, you know, in their own private plane, and that's why he was able to pull off what he did.
You know, the Vice President of the United States America Joe Biden, you know, actually, a few years ago, I think it was 1995 and 1996 did an interview where he bragged that, in fact, when he was briefed by the Reagan people on any action, covert action that my father would have to take to, in fact, keep Americans safe, if he didn't agree with the action, he threatened to go to the media and leak it to the media what was going to happen, and he would do that in order to start what my father was trying to do to keep America safe. Now this man is the Vice President of the United States of America. That's just outrageous. What in the world is going on?
And it's like these stories come out. They don't go anywhere. Hopefully, he is a better Vice President than he was a leaker in the Senate of the United States of America, but my father made that decision on Grenada why? Because he was the President of the United States, and he made it and said, "You know, if it's wrong, I'll take the hit. If it's right, I'll take that too, but you know something, I need to act as President." We need people to act as Presidents, not act like they're just another entree onto the United Nations.
Any other questions? I think there's one here.
ATTENDEE: Yeah, Mr. Reagan. Thank you for coming.
Last week, the two Philadelphia newspapers declared bankruptcy, and there were some articles about how the reporters are saying now that the government needs to bail out the media because they're the only thing that can keep the government truthful. Do you have any comments on that?
MR. REAGAN: Yeah. Well, Air America is looking for money to be bailed out too. I guess they want the fairness doctrine. That's what they consider their own bail-out.
The media has brought this all on themselves. I mean, nobody is reading their paper. People are reading stuff on the Internet today. If they haven't noticed, that's where people go, to read the Internet, and they have so many different areas to go to find out information, what is NRC, wherever it might be. There's places to go. They are not the number-one guy on the hit parade anymore, and they didn't figure it out. I don't know why they didn't figure it out, they thought they were going to be there forever, but, no, they shouldn't be bailed out.
There is no reason to bail out the newspapers in the country at all. They are the ones that made -- you know, they are the ones that made their bed. Now they have to lie in it. I have to.
If I fail as a radio guy, nobody bails me out. What happened when I looked for a bail-out? "Shut up, and keep driving."
So, you know, shut up, and find another business to get into.
When I dropped out of college, you know what my parents said? Get a job. What a concept: get a job. That is what I did. They didn't even bail me out.
ATTENDEE: Michael, your dad early on got the issue about the sanctity of innocent unborn human life, and like you said, the book he wrote, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation," in '83, and in '73, was the Roe v. Wade decision.
Do you know how your dad came to that conclusion, how he came to understand the right to life issue and why that was so important?
MR. REAGAN: I think he just came really -- I think he just came to it really, so much of it by his own, studying, his reading, his own faith. In 1922, he accepts Christ, and he really got it from the religious point and also probably just, you know, being married, having children, and all those kind of things.
The great thing is he was pro adoption. I wish more people were pro adoption.
I run a survey on my show, and occasionally, when I go out and speak, I ask the question, "Anybody who is adopted, please raise their hand," and so the adoptees all raise their hand, and I go, "Great. Here is the question. How many of you would have rather been aborted?" because that is the other side of the equation. And so far -- and the media hasn't done this yet, but maybe you can. But so far, 100 percent of the adoption people are happy they were adopted instead of aborted.
But my father -- I think my father came by it strictly through his faith and just through having children, looking in the eyes of children and saying how can I, in fact, take that life away.
Faith played such a huge role with my dad. We talk about religion in politics sometimes. I think more about men of religion or women of religion and politics. Religion is out here somewhere, but a man of religion like my father is much different because he actually lives it.
My dad, you know, after the assassination attempt in 1981, the thing that really bothered him most and something he looked forward to was not being President anymore, so he could go back to church, because he remembered looking out the rear-view window of that car and seeing people laying in blood from bullets that were meant for him, and he didn't want to put people in church and other people in harm's way. So he didn't go to church on a regular basis anymore, and he so looked forward to it. He counted out the number nine on his fingers, as we flew into Point Magoo in April of 1987 or '88, I guess it was.
He counted out nine. I said, "What's nine?" He said, "The nine, I will be no longer President of the United States in nine months." I said, "Why is that important to you?" He said, "Because I can go back to church. I can go back once again and start visiting with my God every Sunday and not worry about people in the congregation being hurt because somebody is after me." He held so true to that, and when the assassination attempt happened, it really connected to him that, you know, there is a reason.
He said it himself many times, "You know, there must be a reason he lived. There must be a purpose to his life."
And you know, Mikhail Gorbachev used to end every one of their meetings with "If it's God's will." I remember talking to Mikhail Gorbachev one time, if that was just a throw-away line or whatever, and he played it out. He said, "Yeah, it's kind of a throw-away line. I never saw God in the room," and so on and so forth, but the more I got into it over a couple of years doing town halls with him, I found out a couple of things.
One, his wife Raisa's grandparents were killed by the Gestapo for having religious icons in their home. His own parents had religious icons in their home but would hide them behind pictures of Lenin and Stalin whenever the Gestapo would come by, but, ultimately, the bottom line is Mikhail who says -- he says, "I am not a true atheist. I am half an atheist." Whatever that means, I don't know.
But he said -- one time when I asked him the question, "When my father would go meet with you to discuss important issues, he would get down on his knees, and he would pray for guidance from God. Who did you look to for guidance?" I thought he was going to say Raisa. I really did, but we got to know each other over the years, and he looked at me, and he said, "Michael, what I haven't told you is this."
And I happened to have Peter Robinson at the event that night who wrote the Tear Down the Wall speech, given to the Berlin Wall where I was this summer, and he was there with his wife as my guest. And Mikhail Gorbachev said, "I had a grandmother. My grandmother was a Christian and used to come to the Kremlin every day after church and tell me that she prayed for the atheists. In fact, she prayed for me." So here we are, an atheist country, you know, God found a way into that country, and he had a man of God walk into that country and want to do business and bring down the Berlin Wall and bring peace to a whole part of the world that hadn't seen peace, but even though we had an atheist on the other side of the equation, we had a grandmother who was praying to God in that same room on the shoulders of Mikhail Gorbachev. So God did certainly find his way into that room.
And I think I heard a bump in the back of the room, and I think it was Peter falling out of the chair because he had never known that before and, of course, afterwards did all kinds of research to find out it was true, what he was saying, Mikhail Gorbachev was, in fact, saying.
So God played a big, big role in all of it, and I was able to stand there in Berlin this summer and see just really how big a role God did play in all of it, and if you go out to the library, I know you have all been out to my dad's library. When you go there and you look, as you go through the foyer and you see the Berlin Wall sitting out there with that beautiful view, you see all the hues, you see the butterfly, the pinkish red butterfly and the greens and the blues.
You know what I tell young kids? I go out there to the library and visit with the kids a lot. I tell them that is West Germany. That's freedom. If you really want to know what happened, go to the back side of that wall because that was the side where if you spent the night of, what, August 13th or August 12th, 1962, in East Germany, you were there for the next 20 some odd years, and Ronald Reagan brought you from gray and darkness to the bright side of West Germany. That's what Ronald Reagan did for the world.
MR. REAGAN: Yes, sir.
ATTENDEE: I will just raise my voice. You knew when your father was in the Presidency, you knew that there was a chance that someone might try to put him in harm's way, but even so, where were you, and what was your reaction when you heard the news?
MR. REAGAN: I was actually at my office. Mike Ludy was the agent in charge. Mike opened the door. I was in a business meeting, and he said, "There's been an assassination attempt. Everything is okay," and closed the door.
You know, Secret Service is so warm. They are known for their warmth, and he closed the door. And the two gentlemen in the room looked at me, and I was kind of like, "What did he say?" I went over there. I said, "Mike, what did you say?" "There's been an assassination attempt, but everything is okay."
And I walked back into the meeting, and I sat there in my chair, and I thought and I thought and I thought, and I said I don't think I have all the information.
So I called the White House, and Nancy wasn't at the White House, which is a dead give-away, and so I walked out. I said, "Mike, I think my dad has been shot." "No, he's fine." I said, "No, I think he's been shot," and of course, we find out later on that he was shot.
But then comes the other side of it, Brent. They come to the kids, and they go to Patty and to Ron -- Ron was in Nebraska with the ballet, Patty was in L.A., and Maureen and I. And they come to us and say, "Listen, you need to hold tight where you're at because if you all get on a plane and you all fly back to Washington, D.C., there's a great worry the markets will crash, the world will go into turmoil because the President of the United States, they will think the worst if you all do something."
So we were stuck in our homes on phones with media and everybody else out front, and finally, they got a plane, and the Secret Service came to me, and they said, "Listen, there is going to be plane going to pick you up, and you are going to get on the plane. They are going to give you a blanket, a box lunch, and ear plugs," and I thought that's funny, that's really funny.
So I got on the plane, and I got a box lunch, ear plugs, and a blanket. It was a C-140. So it's either 180 degrees in it or minus 180 degrees in it, and we flew back. It got very late when I got back to D.C.
And I got up the next morning, and we went to see my dad at the hospital, and I walked into my dad's room, and my dad saw me, and he looked at me. This is absolutely true. My dad looked at me. He goes, "Well, if you're ever going to get shot, don't be wearing a new suit."
I said, "What?" "Well, if you're ever going to get shot, don't be wearing a new suit," and I said, "What are you talking about?" "Well, yesterday I was wearing a brand-new blue suit. I had just picked it up the other day, and I was wearing it yesterday, and when I got out of the car, I thought I am the President of the United States. They'll let me undress. Well, they didn't. They laid me on a gurney, and, Michael, they cut that suit off of me, and the last time I saw that suit, it was in shreds in the corner of my hospital room. So I'm telling you if you're ever going to get shot, don't be wearing a new suit."
And I went -- I said, "Gees, dad, thanks for that." He says, "Well, that young man who shot me, Hinckley" -- I said yes. "Well, I understand his parents are in the oil business." I said, "Yes, they are." "Well, I understand they live in Denver." I said, "Yes, dad. They do live in Denver." "Well, do you think they have any money?" I said, "Well, I'm sure they have money. They're in the oil business. They live in Denver." "Well, do you think they'd buy me a new suit?"
A brand-new blue suit, and you know, he never got it. He never got the suit, and that's all he ever wanted from it.
So that's where I was, and that's kind of how it all happened. I was in the room when, of course, they pronounced the death of Jim, who was not dead, and I will tell you he is alive today because his wife sat there, had hold of his hand, and I'm telling you I could literally see the strength from her body going to his body to keep him alive, and it was nothing but amazing to watch that whole thing.
Officer Delahanty, we went over to visit him, and of course, Tim, the Secret Service agent, and actually my wife [inaudible] said, you know, how. You have to ask the question because you saw all these agents, and Mike Ludy said to me. He says, "You know, Michael, you train 24/7 to protect the President of the United States. One thing you can't train enough for are the crazies. You can't train for the crazies. You do your best, but the crazies always seem to get through, and you do the best you can to stop them when you can."
And it's Ed's fault that my life was threatened because, you know, when he was giving permission for dad to take out Moammar Quddafis and flying towards houses and shooting them down, I was the Reagan who was, in fact, threatened by Moammar Quddafi. So I had Secret Service almost in bed with me for about a month because the supposedly adopted child of Moammar Quddafi had died in one of the houses, and so Moammar Quddafi decided to have a press conference and announced, "Well, maybe we need to take out the adopted son of Ronald Reagan," and of course, I said, "Well, that must be Ron."
So it went from there.
Any other questions? Yes.
ATTENDEE: I want to ask you about the future. What's your take on Sarah Palin, and any thoughts for you ever running for an office somewhere?
MR. REAGAN: Oh, no. No, no, no. No. No, don't applaud. No.
You know, I would love to, in fact, advise. I would love to consult candidates and talk to candidates.
You know, I listen to so many people. I watched the campaign this last year, and I got to tell you, none of the Republican candidates did the homework that you need to do to win anything.
I mean, Fred Thompson is a nice guy, but he never raised one dime for any Republican running for anything. Nobody got elected to Congress because Fred Thompson was out there working for them.
When you look at any one of them, they didn't do the work that was truly necessary to win.
Ronald Reagan, when he lost in '76, came back, formed a PAC, and for the next four years went out and got people elected at the mayoral level, got elected at the local level, the State level, and the national level. So, when he announced in 1980 that he was running again, he had people on the ground ready to go. None of these people had organizations on the ground ready to go anywhere because they hadn't done the work.
They thought simply by saying I am a Reaganite, I love Ronald Reagan, that all these Reaganites are going to come out of the woodwork and say you're mine.
I mean, I got in trouble because I said Fred Thompson is not going anywhere. I got in trouble because I sat there and looked at he people that Mayor Giuliani hired to run his campaign and said he's not going anywhere.
I've been around long enough. I have walked all the precincts, thanks to Ed and gang, in Iowa. I remember October 6th to November 3rd of 1980, 66 airplane rides in 19 States. That's how you win elections. You don't win elections by doing five events a day somewhere, and you hooked up the Vice President and the President all together.
You don't know if Sarah Palin is going to be the future. You don't know. The person seems to rise to the top.
But back to what I was saying earlier about this same issue, when dad announced in 1980 and pulled us all together, he said, "You know something, I just got off the road again. Everywhere I go, every place I stop, I have people at the airport, the baggage claim people, the hotels where I go, the bellman, the chamber maids who make my bed and leave the little candy on the bed, every one of them say, 'Mr. Reagan, you got to run for President again,'" and he says, "Based on that, I am going to run again."
And Maureen, those of you who know Maureen, you can see this one coming. We go out afterwards. Colleen and I and Maureen were having a glass of wine. Maureen raises her glass, and she says, "You know, if he doesn't make it this time, we're running for the President of the Bellman and the Chamber Maid Union." So thank God, he won, because I didn't want to run him for that one, but he understood it from the ground up.
And we got to get back to -- if we don't let people -- a perfect example, California. We have elected nobody at this level. So what do you do when you get to this level? You got a governor in California. Okay. So he is not conservative enough for us, but look what he is working with, because we haven't elected anybody for him to work with. If we elected a new governor right now, who would that new governor work with? We have got to start working and building the party, and we forgot to build the party because the election ended, we went home, and they went to work.
Thank you again very, very much. Appreciate it.