President Signs Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission Act Alongside Mrs. Reagan

Jun 2, 2009 5:26pm

ABC News’ David Kerley reports: A remarkable scene inside the White House’s diplomatic room this afternoon as former First Lady Nancy Reagan was escorted by the current president of the United States. Wearing a red pant suit, she held onto President Obama’s right arm as he was preparing to sign an act setting up a commission to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the 40th President, Ronald Reagan. “President Reagan had the ability to communicate directly and movingly to the American people, to understand both the hardships they felt in their lives and the hopes that they had for their country,” said Mr. Obama as he spoke of his predecessor. “President Reagan helped as much as any president to restore a sense of optimism in our country, a spirit that transcended politics, that transcended even the most heated arguments of the day.” Mrs. Reagan kept a hold of Mr. Obama as he spoke at the podium, looking up at him. He praised the former first lady, “who redefined that role in her time at the White House and who has in the many years since taken on a new role as an advocate on behalf of treatments that hold the promise of improving and saving lives.” Obama highlighted the work Mrs. Reagan has done promoting research into stem cells and Alzheimer’s disease. “Mrs. Reagan, let’s go sign this bill,” said the president. As the President sat at the table to sign the act, Mrs. Reagan moved her hand to his shoulder, asking him, “you’re left handed?” “I’m a lefty,” he replied as he signed the bill. He then handed pens to members of Congress who helped pass the legislation. The final pen went to Mrs. Reagan. “You have a lot of presidential pens,” the president told Mrs. Reagan as he rose and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He then escorted her, slowly, out of the room. They spoke and he could be heard saying Michelle “just thinks the world of you.”  The commission will get no federal money according to the act. Private donations will fund the effort. Members will include the Interior Secretary and members of the House and the Senate. Every gift over $250 to the commission must be publicly reported. — David Kerley

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