No talking to dead people at the White House
UPDATED – Adds apology to Nancy Reagan
WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama made it clear at his first news conference since his election on Tuesday that he does not talk to dead presidents.
In answer to a question about previous Oval Office occupants that he has consulted, Obama said: “I’ve spoken to all of them that are living,” adding, “I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances.”
President Ronald Reagan’s wife suffered ridicule when it was reported in 1988 that she routinely consulted an astrologer when planning her husband’s schedule. Sen. Hillary Clinton, when her husband was president, was reported to have had imaginary conversations with the late former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt at the suggestion of spiritual adviser Jean Houston.
Obama told reporters at his Chicago news conference that he re-read some of President Lincoln’s writings. Perhaps that’s what brought the seance issue to mind. Mary Todd Lincoln was said to have held regular seances at the White House.
Afterwards, Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter told reporters that the president-elect called Reagan to “apologize for the careless and off-handed remark he made during today’s press conference.”
Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed. Obama answers a journalist’s question during his first press conference following his election victory, in Chicago, Nov. 7, 2008.