Remarks at a State Department Reception Honoring Maureen Reagan

February 10, 1986

Well, I want to thank Secretary Shultz and Assistant Secretary Keyes for hosting this reception and all of you for coming by this evening. And I can't tell you how much fun it is to spring this little surprise on Maureen. [Laughter] Some of you may think it a little unfair to catch her off guard like this, but I can assure you I'm only returning a favor she's been doing for me all my life. [Laughter] The truth is, Maureen's been surprising me and making me very proud for a very long time.

If you'll just let me tell this one little story. I think all of you know that when a candidate for President gets the required number of votes at a political convention, it's traditional for the press and the cameras to come bursting into his hotel room for pictures of the family celebrating. Well, back in 1980, when we were in that gigantic Renaissance Center in Detroit, I noticed just before the magic moment that everybody in the Reagan clan was there except Maureen. And naturally with only a few minutes to go, I started asking everyone, I'd say, ``Where's Maureen, where's Maureen?'' And I could already hear some commentators saying, ``Oh, yeah, that's this fellow who's just been nominated to run for the most powerful post in the free world. He can't even find his own daughter.'' [Laughter]

Then, sure enough, it hit me and everyone else in the room. And only a few seconds later, there was confirmation right there on the television set in front of us. Maureen wasn't there because she had duties to perform as an alternate delegate and leader in the California delegation -- and one of which, come to think of it, was voting for me. [Laughter] Now, I hadn't been in politics as long as some people, but I did know that that was the wrong moment to start taking anything for granted. So, as I listened to Maureen on television, just this once -- [laughter] -- I was glad she was on the floor and not with us. [Laughter]

And there's a little sequel to this. Last year I kept seeing in the press all those reports about the U.N. conference wrapping up a decade of women. I think some of you remember that there was a good deal of speculation that the whole conference was going to become politicized, a propaganda exercise on extraneous matters rather than a serious exchange on the issues that uniquely affect women. And there was some talk, too, about how the American delegation, which Maureen was heading, was going to be outsmarted, outmaneuvered, and probably embarrassed by all of this. And, you know, every time I read one of these reports, I got this big Cheshire cat-like grin -- [laughter] -- because I was thinking to myself, somebody out there sure doesn't know my daughter. [Laughter]

Well, those of us here today do know Maureen. At State, you know her by the wonderful job she did do in Nairobi. You know how effectively she worked to get agreement on the consensus document that would make the conference the success that it was and bring the American delegation the credit it deserved. And you know, too, that she'll do a fine job as our Representative to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

And, of course, for Nancy and me, Maureen is someone we love dearly and yet someone whom we also recognize as the extraordinary individual that she is. And that isn't all that easy. As I said, it's always a little bit of a surprise for a father, just as it was that night in Detroit, to realize that that's your daughter up there on the TV screen, not only a grown woman -- and I'm not that old yet -- [laughter] -- but a leader, a mover, someone who is making the world a whole lot better place to live.

But all these things Maureen is, and that's why Nancy and I and all of you love her for it. So, I want to thank Maureen today as her father for making me so proud of her on this occasion and so many others. But also as her President, I want to thank her on behalf of the American people for distinguished service to her country and the cause of human freedom and dignity.

Note: The President spoke at 6:46 p.m. in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department. The reception, hosted by Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Assistant Secretary of State for International Affairs Alan L. Keyes, was in honor of Maureen Reagan's role as U.S. Representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.