In getting ready to be president, Barack Obama said Friday he is consulting with the living former presidents and President Bush, re-reading some of Abraham Lincoln's writings and wrestling with what he kiddingly called a "major issue"-- what kind of dog to buy for his daughters.
A joke he made about Nancy Reagan was followed by a call to the former first lady with an apology, a rare miscue for Obama. Later he mocked himself as a "mutt" while talking about the dog.
Obama discussed his preparations during his press conference, answering my questions about what former living presidents he spoke to, books he was reading, the puppy and whether his daughters would attend private or public schools in Washington. Wife Michelle is scouting schools, he said.
The president-elect asked me why I had my arm in a sling, and I told him, "I cracked my shoulder running to your speech on election night."
Regarding former presidents, Obama said he has talked to Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush as well as President Bush. And, "I have re-read some of Lincoln's writings, who's always an extraordinary inspiration."
Perhaps because I used the word "living" in my question about advice from past presidents, Obama joked, "I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances."
(Nancy Reagan never held a seance in the White House, though she did get advice from an astrologer.)
A short time later, Obama transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter sent out a statement saying Obama called Reagan "to apologize for the careless and off-handed remark he made during today's press conference. The president-elect expressed his admiration and affection for Mrs. Reagan that so many Americans share, and they had a warm conversation."
The Obama daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, were told they would get a puppy at the end of the campaign.
"With respect to the dog, this is a major issue. I think it's generated more interest on our Web site than just about anything," Obama said.
"We have -- we have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypo-allergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypo-allergenic. On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog.
"But obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts, like me. So the -- so, whether we're going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue on the Obama household."