WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 1988 (UPI) - With the smile that comes only from victory, Ronald Reagan told President-elect George Bush Wednesday that the American people had ''unmistakably delivered'' him a mandate to continue the Reagan revolution.
During a brief ceremony in the Rose Garden for the victorious Republican ticket, Reagan said, ''This is not the end of an era, but a time to refresh and strengthen a new beginning.''
Grinning with satisfaction, he added, ''You aint seen nothin' yet.''
An overwhelmed Bush responded: ''It's sinking in, the enormity of all that has happened.''
Then, in praise of Reagan, the vice president added, ''I learned from a giant'' about the good things of America.''
Reagan and his wife, Nancy, had strolled down the path from the Oval Office hand in hand to greet Bush, his wife, Barbara, Vice President-elect Dan Quayle and his wife, Marilyn, who arrived in long black limousine.
As they posed for photographers in bright autumn sunlight, Bush gazed up and said: ''It's a beautiful day. It's wonderful to be here.''
Reagan opened his remarks with a wide grin: ''If anyone wants to know how I feel, just read our smiles'' -- a variation on Bush's trademark line of the campaign: ''Read my lips -- no new taxes.''
The president said Bush and Quayle had shown ''grit in this difficult year ... a challenge to human endurance.''
He also offered his congratulations to the Democratic candidates who lost the election, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis and Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas. Speaking to all the candidates, he said, ''Each of you is better for it, and so is the country.''
Reagan indicated he knew that they were all tired of politics, but could not resist delivering a few partisan shots and summing up by saying, ''I think that mandate has been unmistakably delivered'' and added, ''Our achievements are assured.''
Bush, in turn, expressed gratitude to Reagan for his campaign help, saying, ''I don't believe there's a case in modern presidential politics where a president has worked so hard to help someone else achieve this office.''
Thanking Reagan ''for going that extra mile,'' Bush said, ''The results would have been different'' without his help.
Quayle, with his smiling wife beside him, said, ''I'm delighted to be part of the team.''
Reagan and Bush then went into the Oval Office to discuss plans for the transiton period, and the Quayles departed.
Bush flew to Washington from Houston after holding a news conference at which he announced his first Cabinet selection, tapping his campaign manager and longtime friend, James Baker, as his secretary of state.
Quayle, who spent election night in Washington, began the day with a visit to his transition headquarters across the street from the White House in a brick townhouse generally reserved for the use of past presidents.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said about 300 White House staff members, from top advisers to maintenance workers, gathered Wednesday morning in the Rose Garden to applaud Reagan when he came to work.
''We won one for the Gipper,'' one staffer shouted, taking up Reagan's nostalgic battle cry that he sounded repeatedly this fall in campaigning for his loyal vice president around the country.
Touched by their adulation, Reagan said: ''I just don't have any words and that's unusual for me. You've been the greatest team and it's a joy to work with you. God bless you.''
''As for last night, I think everything came out all right,'' he added.
The president announced that chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein would head the White House transition team. The president-elect's panel will be directed by campaign chief of staff Craig Fuller and Robert Teeter, his pollster and key adviser.
For Reagan, Wednesday was largely business as usual. He privately presented the national security medal to retired Lt. Gen. William Odom, who headed the top-secret National Security Agency. He also met with the leader of the Afghan resistance movement and met with a number of new ambassadors.
He summoned the full Cabinet to a meeting Thursday and probably will inform them of the requirement to submit their resignations by Jan. 20 to give Bush a free hand in making appointments.
Friday, the Reagans plan to observe Veterans Day by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery and delivering an address. He also will speak at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Next week, he has two speeches and meets with foreign dignitaries, including Soviet human rights advocate Andrei Sakharov, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.