Reagan calls White House 'gilded cage'

WASHINGTON -- President Reagan said Saturday it is too early to reveal his ideas about running for a second term and compared life in the White House to being 'like a bird in a gilded cage.'

In a half-hour interview at the White House with United Press International Audio and five other radio networks, Reagan said his wife Nancy has not pressured him to step down after four years. But he said the attempt on his life in March, 1981, was 'quite a traumatic experience for her.'


'She's made no decision, either,' he said. 'She and I are together on this.'

Speaking of life in the White House, Reagan said, 'It has its drawbacks, of course. You kind of live like a bird in a gilded cage.'

A wistful tone crept into his voice as he said, 'I sometimes look out of the window at Pennsylvania Avenue and wonder what it would be like to be able to just walk down the street to the corner drugstore and look at the magazines.

'I can't do that any more.'

He said living in the relative isolation of the White House does not separate him from the realities of American life such as the pain of the recession and high unemployment.


'The 'bird in the gilded cage' referred to our own use of leisure here in the White House and the security problems that entail my going any place,' he said.

'But you aren't that separated from the world. First of all, the people that are all around you, the people that are a part of your daily activity right here in government, including those very security forces.

'But when I go to the ranch, sometimes out there I'm right back there with the neighbors and the people that work there -- and it's as if this (the presidency) had never happened.'

Reagan said it is too early to make a decision on seeking a second term, or, at least, too early to announce one.

'To make that decision too early, or to make it public too early, is to do one of two things. One way you're going to become a lame duck and have no authority to do anything you're trying to do. Or the other way you are going to open yourself to the opposition charges that everything you do is political, based on the next election,' he said.

Reagan said he has repeatedly told his staff and the Cabinet, 'I don't want to hear the political ramifications of any issue that comes before us.'


'I want to decide it on the basis of what's right or wrong for the people.'

Reagan told the reporters, 'I have enjoyed the opportunity of dealing with the problems that are before us.'

'I think we've made great progress in a definite turn in government, turning away from some of the things that have brought on the very economic crisis we're suffering from,' he said.

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