“Good afternoon, Mr. President, my name is Don Barone from…”
I’m somewhere in Central California between Bakersfield to the south or Sacramento to the north, the 287-mile Produce Aisle of America. I can’t remember where for sure; I’m tired, I’m hungry, and I have about two hours before the 5 o’clock Action News section I have to be in, and I’m at least 90 miles from the station…maybe more.
And I’m about to interview the president of the whole free world, President Ronald Reagan.
Sitting on my lap scribbled on blue-lined, yellow paper are the other four stories I’ve done that day – two car accidents, one murder and a minute thirty scribble on Miss California Natural Raisin Dessert maker (or something like that).
“…well, good afternoon to you, too, Bob…”
Argh, I just said “Huh..” to the President of The United States and California.
“Don, Mr. President…Don Barone….”
To be fair to President Reagan, I was just one of TWO DOZEN reporters standing in line for our own Exclusive Interview…
…most wanted to be in the line, one did not.
So I scramble through my notes looking for what the assignment editor asked/TOLD me to get from the President, find it, turn to my right just as my camera lady finished putting the tiny microphone on the Presidential Seal Tie, and do a double take, because sitting there just waiting for me, smiling at me IS THE FREAKIN’ PRESIDENT OF THE PLANET.
“So, John, what’s on your mind…”
“….Don, Mr. President…I’m not much into politics but my assignment editor wants me to ask you this…”
“…ask me anything, John, go ahead…”
“Mr. President, I can’t find the question, got to be honest with you, but it was something like, how do you plan to win a second term…something like that…”
And just sort of slumped my shoulders as if saying, “Dude, I give up…I’ve got two car wrecks and a domestic shooting I have to get on air….”
Suddenly, the President of everything I’ve ever seen in my life, leans over, puts one hand on my BAD knee and says exactly, this, “My plan to win a second term is to get more votes than the guy running against me.”
And he smiles.
And I smile, too.
I lean in and say this, “Mr. President, can I use that?”
“Yes, you can, and I hope it helps you with your assignment editor, Mr. Barone.”
And once again President Reagan looked at me and smiled,
“…when you're rippin' and you're ridin'…”