June 2nd, 2009
04:51 PM ET
14 years ago

Gibbs says no slight meant to Nancy Reagan

(CNN) - The White House meant no disrespect toward Nancy Reagan when it failed to invite the former first lady and vigorous supporter of embryonic stem cell research to a bill signing ceremony on the subject, press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.

"I think she speaks in real personal terms about the issue," Gibbs told reporters. "And I think her candor and her courage have been heartening and we certainly meant no slight to her whatsoever."

On Monday, Vanity Fair published an interview with Reagan on its Web site in which she suggested the Obama administration missed an opportunity by not inviting her to witness the president sign the bill allowing federal funds to be directed toward stem cell research - a policy Reagan has long promoted despite objections from many in the Republican Party.

"I would have gone, and you know I don't like to travel," she told the magazine. "Politically, it would have been a good thing for him to do. Oh well, nobody's perfect. He called and thanked me for working on it. But he could have gotten more mileage out of it."

Gibbs' comments also come the same day Reagan attended a White House ceremony as President Obama signed legislation authorizing the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission.

She'll also attend the unveiling of a new statue of President Reagan Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda and then share a private White House lunch with Michelle Obama.

Obama issued an apology to Reagan earlier this year after joking in a press conference that she held séances during her years in the White House - an apparent reference to reports she consulted with astrologists when her husband was president.

Filed under: Nancy Reagan
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. DX in TX

    I wanted to comment on what a great day this is for Democrats and Republicans, but the media wanted to stir up the Left/Right into a frenzy of hateful and unjustified remarks.
    Most of you people were sucked in the toilet and real idiots are floating like doo-doo

    Oh well, I will come back when there is more love in the room

    June 2, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  2. Jeff W.

    God, who cares? Reagan was a terrible, terrible president and Nancy was a useless first lady. Just say no indeed.

    June 2, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  3. Dave

    Wow, this President has done more while in office than Bush did in 8 years. Why are jerks so critical of him? This President had a lot thrown at him from the previous President and he is working at a fast pace. I really admire what he is doing and hopefully will do in the future. This country needs lots of building up, from Bush tearing it down. Let's support Obama and help him get us back on track. In the future, those that voted for Bush should vote for a President with some intelligence next time. You notice how quiet Bush is, he knows he failed while in office.

    June 2, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  4. CO

    I agree with Mrs. Reagan that she should have been invited and it was a missed opportunity. Her presence would have been very symbolic for judgmental Republicans to see differing view points among their kindred.

    June 2, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  5. Julie from PA

    I noticed immediately that Mrs. Reagan was not in attendance...thank you for clarifying it was because she was not invited. She is a very classy and highly respected woman...I believe she is the most respected First Lady that ever resided in the White House...it was definitely President Obama's loss not to include her.

    June 2, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  6. E.C.Coleman

    Washington, D.C. is Classless, as is the entire obama administration. Gibbs is a prime example of the 'hayseeds' that obama hires......and the others who are his so-called 'confidents' are simply, crude and without any refinement.

    obama may be president, but both are Classless. Plus,. obama, himself, is so busy worrying about his own image and is such an egomaniac, that he doesn't think about anyone else but himself.

    Who would be surprised at the "slighting of Nancy Reagan, " under this liberal administration???
    None of the group have any knowledge or know-how about how to act, how to extend courtesy to others, or who to invite to certain events.
    They are ALL clueless as well as classless.

    People of the street know more than they do.
    Education doesn't give a person........what the Reagans and the Bushes came by naturally: CLASS
    One isn't born with CLASS, either.
    The obama administration is made up of 'bumbling, ignorant fools.'

    June 2, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  7. Has been

    Palin, Bush, Limbaugh, Jindal, Keyes, Steele, Gingrich, Joe the not Plumber, Coulter, McCain – What a group? They should give Nancy some recognition since they all use her line – "Just Say No!"

    June 2, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  8. John G

    This administration has been all about putting on a good show since day one. The sell out crowd at the inauguration, celebrities in and out of the White House, the jet set date night to New York, the bill signing ceremonies (it takes 5 seconds to sign your name Mr President).

    Obama has made his career out of badmouthing and insulting Republicans and anyone else who doesn't agree with him. He couldn't have invited her to anything important, regardless of her work for the cause, without blowing his reelection strategy.

    June 2, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  9. Jonathan

    Umm...so now Obama is being criticized for not taking political advantage of a situation? So....if he takes political advantage of every situation, he would get criticized less?

    June 2, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  10. george - nj

    What's the big deal about her not being at the stem cell bill signing. She wasn't always a big champion of stem cell research and only came on board when her husband took ill.
    Look how many years passed before President Reagan even mentioned the word AIDS before acknowledging its menace in the U.S. and globally. Reagan was overrated as President and his economic policies and blanket deregulation of banking has led this country into its current financial mess.

    June 2, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  11. tom

    gibbs is an idiot bottom line

    June 2, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  12. Clarice

    I love Nancy Reagan. I wish we could clone her.

    June 2, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  13. Andrea

    Thanks Nancy, but I don't think he needs to milk it for more milage. He is riding sky high without your approval.

    June 2, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  14. Phoenix Should be 86'd

    Champly June 2nd, 2009 4:23 pm ET

    Why no big story about the killing of an Army recruiter, in front of the center, by an Islamist ? And why no comment from the President ?

    Uh, there was a story on it. The guy is a Muslim convert. And your point is??? How about the good ole boy Christian that killed the doctor? I'll bet he was a proud Republican also. The only thing that any of it proves is that there are whacko's from all backgrounds.

    June 2, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  15. Phoenix Should be 86'd

    Proud Member..Party of No June 2nd, 2009 5:59 pm ET

    After reading the posts on this blog I'm convinced that a lobotomy is a prerequisite to joining the democrat party.

    as opposed to the Republican party, where you don't need a brain at all

    June 2, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  16. Voter

    Obama is so full of himself it's disgusting, and it's getting really old really fast.

    I'm no Reagan supporter and I never was, but Mrs. Reagan has been very eloquent and very outspoken in he support of stem cell research. She deserves to be invited even if she is unable to attend.

    Obama would be lucky if she crossed the street to witness another of his "All About Me" moments.

    June 2, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  17. Frank Sellers

    I don't feel sorry for Nancy Reagan. Her old man started the whole right-wing landslide that led to bans on stem cell research, not to mention both the Bushes being in power. Yeah, she's an old lady, but the old usually have the dirtiest hands of all. Ronald Reagans certainly showed no sympathy or pity toward the thousands of lives he destroyed while in office and I don't feel an ounce of pity for his old lady, either.

    June 2, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  18. Teleprompter of the U.S.A

    I shouldn't be posting so much. Obama is going to be President for 4 years at least and I just keep blowing hot air. The only person who thinks he is the messiah is me because I want him to fix everything my party destroyed in such a short timeframe.

    You know the story about the boy who cried wolf? Welcome to my world.

    June 2, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  19. Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

    More knee-jerk attacks from the rabid righties, desperate for an issue.

    But it's true, the Obama administration quickly acknowledges mistakes, which is frankly refreshing after eight years of a President and VP who were flawless, at least in their own minds.

    June 2, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  20. Lisa

    June 2nd, 2009 5:57 pm ET
    this was no over sight. HIs "forgetfulness" is very petty and childish. Mrs. Regan is and has been a voice for Stem cell research, how can you forget her?
    Everyone knows that as humans we make mistakes. I was taught that when you do something wrong, you must make an effort to make it right. Seems like that's exactly what the WH is doing.

    June 2, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  21. Cynthia - Arkansas

    President Obama is a decent and caring man. I can't even imagine him slighting ANYONE. This is some cooked up controversy, like the rest of the crap that Republicans throw out on a daily basis.

    President Obama offered their arm for support, held her hand to steady her and kissed her on the cheek. That doesn't sound like dissrespect to me. He is a kind person, not this evil imagine the Republicans want to convey.

    June 2, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  22. julie

    CNN misspelled Mrs. Reagan's last name in the link to this page (from CNN's homepage). Is that a slight, too?

    June 2, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  23. Nunya

    It's amazing how you people will twist words. Nancy said that he could have gotten more mileage out of the issue by inviting her to the signing. She very well may be correct in that. But I didn't see anything in her words about feeling slighted by not being invited. You people try to twist words to make it some sort of ad hominem attack. She clearly was focused on the issue and how the cause might have been helped politically by including a prominent person from the other side – not on whether she was so glorious that she deserved a spot.

    June 2, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  24. She's Right

    Nancy's right, he could have got more mileage. Spoken like a true politician's wife.

    Obama 2012

    June 2, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  25. You sure you can keep this up for 4 years?

    MatthewDetroit, Teleprompter of the U.S.A., Mike, Syracuse, NY, phoenix86,

    I'm not sure if your aware of this, but Obama will be President until 2012, so the hot air that you let out here on CNN of all places, means squat.

    Maybe you all think that if you say it enough times people will fall lock step with your mentality, but the truth is we just laugh at you because your like the kid who lost and is stomping your feet and pouting.

    Keep it up though, I love seeing how mad you guys get, and with 4 years to go, I've got gauranteed entertainment on my hands.

    Meanwhile, the more you cry wolf, the less people hear you. Good luck "my friends"

    June 2, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
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