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. Thomas

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA June 2nd, 2009 4:00 pm ET

    Nancy backs the President's policy on stem cell research. Now what if the President actually invited the former First Lady to the signing of the bill? Republicans would had a hissy fit and Rush would have said Nancy's not a "real" republican.

    Dutch: you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Please stop making a fool of yourself.

    June 2, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  2. MatthewDetroit

    The worst part about barack is that he is not even the president.
    Kenya still claims he was born there to a very young mother.
    The Hawaiin papers are unable to be verified.
    He hates the constitution and does not believe in law.
    He is an empty suit and a liar to boot.
    He is adding debt to the country irresponsibly. He is spending money he does not have 4 x faster than President Bush ever did.
    He does not support our soldiers and he placates Iran.
    He cant stop North Korea and has no experience in foreign affairs.
    He will not drill for oil and has shut down all the leases to drill on the cost.
    He lets CHINA drill off Cuba and in the Gulf of Mexico, but no to the US.

    June 2, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. Clyde of Pensacola

    Barnes Franklin (BF) is showing he was raised in a barn. Mrs.Reagan is one fine lady, good sense of humor, sharpe and obviously politically aware. I sure if he invited her and she showed up, BF would trash her just like the other DITTO Heads. He reminds me of the horse you lead to water, but dies of thirst refusing to take a drink.....

    June 2, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. Bob of Lompoc

    The best CNN can do is drag up the manufactured issue that The White House didn't invite Mrs. Reagan to the Stem Cell signing. Hope at the upcoming lunch the waiters put the small fork ( I call them Republican Forks) on the correct side of the plate. And, don't anyone drink out of the finger bowls. Finally, would someone ask Mrs. Reagan, the next time she talks to "Ronnie", if she would inquire about that selling weapons to the Iranians thing, the 250 Marines killed in the Lebanon barracks truck bomb, the cover up when it was blamed on the Marine commander, the 250 killed on Pan Am Flight 103 at Lockerbie, Scotland, the 220 killed on Korean Air 007, the spy flight out of Alaska, and most of all, what was there in "Ronnies" character that gave him sufficient courage to invade our motal enemy, Grenada.

    June 2, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. Mari( maybe one of my comments will be posted)

    GOOD GRIEF.......... Of course no slight was meant!! Does every little thing have to become a "mountain"???

    Mrs. Reagan is having lunch with Mrs. Obama, I am sure Mrs. Reagan will be gracious............ as will Mrs.Obama

    The GOPers need to take a deep breath! And relax!

    June 2, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. nick

    When I think of who helped the most in promoting stem cell research, I think of the Rep. Sentor, Dr. Frish and Michael J Fox. They both used all the TV talk showsto promote it and they both spoke at Congress hearings.. Nancy spoke to her Husband, who ended up by cutting the budget for medical research......So much for the Republican effort to help citizens in need:

    June 2, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. jon c. sprowl

    obama should resign. he has no idea what he is doing.

    June 2, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. Paul from NYC

    The former first lady has done a lot of good on this issue, but why exactly should she have gotten an invite to the signing? A LOT of people have worked for this legislation that were not invited.

    June 2, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    As a woman who helped my father care for my mother as she struggled with Alzheimers during the last 10 years of her life, I am deeply grateful to the Reagan family for bringing this dreaded disease out in the open.

    Hopefully stem cell research will do much to help all who are thus afflicted as they and their families struggle daily with Alzheimers.

    June 2, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. What, me worry?

    "Republican's only care about issues when it affects them directly..." And I guess Democrats only care about issues when it doesn't affect them directly? E.g., Dems oppose school voucher programs but send their kids to private schools (eg, Obama – sends his kids to an elite private school in DC while torpedoing the voucher program in DC); Obama takes his wife to NYC for a night out on the town at a cost of at least $25,000 to taxpayers while the fed gov't is drowning in debt/spending; Dems propose cap and trade (a huge tax on the economy) because they imagine that businesses have $billions just lying around somewhere that could instead be used to pay for Obama's new socialist regime, even though the cost will ultimately be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

    Dems propose raising taxes on businesses offshore income even though this will place US-based companies at a huge disadvantage to companies based in almost any other industrialized nation.

    Oh well, while the US's economy, schools, businesses, currency, and costs of borrowing continue spiraling down an irreversible sewer pipe, maybe we can all move to Canada....

    June 2, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. Antonio in AZ

    If he had invited her, he would have been rubbing the Republican Party's nose in it. Not a classy move. I would have had the entire Reagan family around me. Maybe that's why I'm not the president.

    June 2, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. Madman

    It's pathetic to see people post things like "Old Bag" on there. It's upsetting to know that there are people out there like u, u pathetic losers. Also known as Liberals. CNN you will do anything to get people riled up. Most of these posts on here aren't even about Nancy Reagan. No wonder your ratings suck

    June 2, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. phoenix86

    Dear "Post always rejected by CNN",

    Perhaps that because Hillary was a sitting Senator. Try and pretend to be intelligent.

    June 2, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. BK

    Do you people leaving such hateful comments realize how poorly it reflects on your party when you do that? Are you even capable of SLIGHTLY disagreeing with something or does it go right from love to hate with no in between?
    Nancy just commented it was a good idea. Obama agreed and wished he'd thought of it. There really is nothing more to this, nothing at all. Get over yourselves.

    June 2, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  15. Christine Leverence

    President Obama definitely needs a public relations assistant to guide him on protocol in The White House. First, it was the Queen of England and now it is Nancy Reagan who was ignored when invitations went out for the stem cell situation research. What is wrong with The White House. Get rid of some of those assistants and get someone in there who knows the proper way to conduct business. He has no clue and is just showing his inexperience in federal government situations. Sorry, I expected more common sense and honor for the US. from our new President.
    Thank you for listening.

    June 2, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. Give us a break

    People have to thick of skin when it comes to trivial issues, but there thin is not so thick when it comes to the real important issues in America, like the war, social security, unemployment, healtcare, taxes, the economy, illegal immigration, illegal drugs, poverty, and felony crimes. Both Nancy and Barrack need to get a life, the average person does not give a crap what politicians or their spouses get slighted.

    June 2, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. debbie

    Hmm so the fact that he missed an opportunity to make political hay is bad is it? Maybe he forgot about Nancy Reagan. Maybe he didn't forget but thought that at her age, and with her (stated) distaste for travel, he didn't want to put her on the spot with an invitation – thus was being considerate. I would hope that the fact that he's given her recognition and personal thanks AND that he's gotten this legislation ENACTED would be sufficient.

    June 2, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. phoenix86


    It will be here shortly with Obama as president. Best get your will ready.

    June 2, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  19. MatthewDetroit

    President Bush owes no apology for the financial crisis.
    The financial crisis was caused by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.
    Two men who stood in the way of regulating the mortgage industry.
    Two men, one of which Barney Frank said "the republicans keep screaming the sky is falling, Nothing is wrong with the mortgage industry/"
    Exactly. While Barney Frank and Chris Dodd received huge sums of money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They allowed mortgages to be writtien and forced banks to write mortgages to those who could not afford it.
    President Bush caused 500 billion a year in damage to our national debt.
    Barack Obama is adding 2 trillion a year in damage to the national debt.
    Make excuses all you want for barack but the guy is a cheat and a liar. He will go down in history as a brother in arms to Chavez of Velenzuela. Nationalize and take over industry. Ruin the country with high taxes and dependence on a bad goverment.
    The goverment cant run the VA, AMTRAK, STEEL, etc... anything they touch they ruin.

    June 2, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |

    is there any wonder out there that since an inexperience political neubie took over like President Obama that coutnries like Iran, North Korea and even now Pakistan and India are invovled in nuclear proliferation? That wasn't the case under the Bush Administration. But heck give the bomb to everyone. Why not sell them at Walmart or Costco so we can all get them at a discount. This administration is a joke. The entire world knows that Barack will allow them to walk all over them and they're salivating at the chance. Get in line behind Chavez and the others that have already politically slapped Barack in the face. I might as well apply for my chinese citizenry because we'll be headed there next now that Barack is putting us in an even MORE financial hole with his 2+trillion agenda per year not including his ridiculous version of heatlhcare reform.

    June 2, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. Joe in NJ

    "Andrea June 2nd, 2009 4:26 pm ET

    Nancy Reagan did not speak out about stem cell research until it directly affected her. "

    Most people don't take up causes until it directly affects them.

    Michael J. Fox – Parkinson's disease
    Jenny McCarthy – autism
    Katie Couric – colon cancer

    June 2, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  22. IowaBOY

    Poor Mathew from Detroit:

    You are obviously a ditto-head and are letting a talk show host think for you. But don't despair, there are millions more soft brained ditto-heads out there who absolutely have no imagination, no concept of considering the facts of the last eight years, an NO idea of thinking for yourselves. It's not really your fault. It's a learning disability, sort of like mental illness, something red-dyed republicans don't believe in or won't accept– so really, you do have a problem.

    June 2, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  23. katy Heys


    And you can cite your source(s) for the idiotic information you've shared with us regarding our duly elected President, Barack Obama?

    June 2, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. Sandi Rossol

    Shame on the white House for the slight of Nancy REagan. She has been a firm supporter of stem cell research for how long now????

    June 2, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  25. John M in NoHo CA

    Wow, I must've logged on to a Fox News blog. It's pathetic, the lack of civility.

    June 2, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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