WASHINGTON -- Nancy Reagan says reports that she spends thousands of dollars on her wardrobe are not true, and that first ladies have been criticized 'all through the years.'
In a television interview with Chris Wallace of NBC broadcast Thursday night, Mrs. Reagan also said the 'tiny little gun' her husband gave her for protection at their California home 'disappeared quite a long time ago.'
'I had the tiny little gun when my husband was away a great deal of time and I was alone and I was advised to have the tiny little gun,' she said.
Asked if first ladies have been 'picked on,' Mrs. Reagan said:
'All through the years they have. All through the years. Mrs. Lincoln was criticized for spending $2,000 on her inaugural gown.'
Mrs. Reagan also said she undestands 'that even Johnny Carson has criticized -- I don't stay up that late to watch.'
As for being called the 'Evita of Bel Air' -- a reference to Evita Peron of Argentina -- she said she had never heard that, and added, 'I don't live in Bel Air, No. 1.'
Told there is a report that she spent $1,600 for an alligator handbag, and asked how she can spend thousands of dollars on clothes when the economy is so depressed, Mrs. Reagan said:
'That's not true, at all. I would never pay -- my heavens, for a handbag? No way. If I were spending that kind of money, yes, I would think that people would have a right to say, 'What in the world is she doing?'
'I do not spend that much money on my clothes. I do not buy that many clothes. What clothes I buy I wear forever. My husband teases me and says I still have my gym bloomers from school.'
The first lady also denied that she had indicated she wanted the Jimmy Carters to move out of the White House before Inauguration Day so she could get started redecorating the family quarters.
'I think it would be very insensitive if I said anything like that, or meant anything like that, which I didn't, and I called Mrs. Carter immediately and told her that I didn't,' she said.
Asked whether she and her husband ever considered 'whether it would be wiser' to keep Frank Sinatra at a distance because of alleged links to organized crime figures, she said the singer is 'a good friend ... all we've ever known of Frank is he is a very generous, very kind, a very thoughtful man.'
Mrs. Reagan said she intends to 'be myself' in her first lady role and does not like to dwell on anything unpleasant in the past.