- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Ladies first

Those closest to Ronald Reagan worried as far back as 1976 whether the former California governor had enough stamina to campaign for the presidency, Craig Shirley writes in his just-published book, “Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign that Started It All.”

“Reagan enjoyed campaigning,” says Mr. Shirley, a former Reagan aide who currently heads a Washington public-relations firm, “but Mrs. Reagan was concerned that the campaign was pushing her husband too hard.”

Late one evening, the author recalls, Nancy Reagan called family friend and campaign aide Nancy Reynolds in New Hampshire to make sure that her husband “was in bed and asleep.”

“Mrs. Reagan insisted that Reynolds go down the hall and knock on the governor’s door to see if he was in his pajamas and in bed,” writes Mr. Shirley. “Reynolds protested, but Mrs. Reagan insisted. Reynolds knocked on the door and woke the governor.

“When she whispered through the door that Mrs. Reagan wanted to know ‘Ronnie’ was in bed and asleep, the formerly slumbering Reagan yelled back at the door, ‘Can’t I ever escape you two Nancys?’”

An attractive reporter for the CBS affiliate in San Francisco when she first met Mr. Reagan in 1966, Miss Reynolds went to work for the governor in Sacramento shortly thereafter. She could be blunt, the author recalls. Like when Mr. Reagan told her in 1979 that he was running a second time for president.

“Don’t you think you’re too old?” she blurted out.

Mr. Reagan only chuckled, and when Miss Reynolds tried holding the door for him on the campaign trail, he said: “My mother told me ladies go through the door first, so we can stand here all day, and you let me hold that door for you, or we don’t go through.”

Guns and freedom

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been named “Gun Rights Defender of the Month” for January by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

“I have sort of a pure Second Amendment view of the right to bear arms,” committee spokesman John Michael Snyder quotes Miss Rice as saying, while pointing to biographer Antonia Felix’s book, “The Condoleezza Rice Story.”

“The secretary’s father, John Rice, and his neighbors guarded the streets of Birmingham, Ala., at night with shotguns during the civil rights crises during Condi’s childhood,” Mr. Snyder says.

“Ms. Felix wrote that ‘the memory of her father out on patrol lies behind Rice’s opposition to gun control today. Had those guns been registered, she argues, [police commissioner] Bull Connor would have had a legal right to take them away, thereby removing one of the black community’s only means of self-defense.’”

‘I’m too nice’

“I’m sorry for the confusion — one of [my] attorneys told me it was filed, and I repeated it,” says Washington lobbyist and landlord Beth Solomon, explaining that her $60,000 lawsuit against a New York Times scribe — reportedly filed in D.C. Superior Court — was pulled back at the “last minute” for several additions.

An attorney for Miss Solomon, Jim O’Dea, explained to Inside the Beltway yesterday that a penthouse rented to reporter Jennifer 8. Lee was, upon second examination, “so trashed” that he now has included “additional damages” to the original complaint. When the lawsuit is filed this afternoon or tomorrow morning at the latest, damages should total anywhere from $127,000 to $149,000, he said.

Writing to Inside the Beltway from New York, Miss Lee — who added the “8” as a teenager to get attention — stressed “there has not been a lawsuit filed yet — nor are we sure there will be.”

By regularly hosting VIP-style parties in the penthouse, the reporter stands accused of severely damaging floors, interior walls, appliances and furniture. “My baby grand piano, passed down in my family, was destroyed — they used it as a wet bar,” Miss Solomon charges.

In addition, Miss Lee told this column that Larry Bank, identified in this space and elsewhere as her attorney, is actually “in real estate and is negotiating this as a favor because I’m a bad negotiator because I’m too nice.”

“He’s not a lawyer because this is not a legal matter, since there is no lawsuit yet. I don’t have a lawyer,” Miss Lee said.

“She will when she gets it,” Mr. O’Dea said of the pending suit.

Election day

Now Saddam knows they don’t need him.

They have chosen their brethren to lead them,

And the dye on their fingers

In memory lingers

As the emblem of long-denied freedom.

—F.R. Duplantier

Dramamine?

Average total cost for an 80-year-old American to live out the rest of his or her days on a luxury cruise ship: $230,497

Average cost to live them out in an assisted-living facility: $228,075

—Harper’s Index, February 2005

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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