Obama slips in reference to seance by Nancy Reagan

By: AP
By: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In his preparation to become president, Barack Obama said Friday that he has had discussions with all former presidents - or almost all of them.

"I've spoken to all of them that are living," the president-elect said in a lighter moment during his first press conference since his victory.

"I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances," he joked.

It actually wasn't Nancy Reagan who was linked to conversations with the dead; it was Obama's top Democratic challenger for the presidency, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.

In either case, use of the word "seance" might be overstated.

Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer to help set her husband's schedule, wrote former White House chief of staff Donald T. Regan. The revelation created a furor and President Reagan even broke with his policy of not commenting on books by former White House staffers. "No policy or decision in my mind has ever been influenced by astrology," Reagan said.

In his book "The Choice," Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward described how Clinton consulted with a spiritual adviser who led her through imaginary conversations with her personal hero, Eleanor Roosevelt. Newsweek magazine, which was promoting the book, characterized the visits as "seances," a term that White House officials quickly tried to squelch.

"These were people who were helping her laugh, helping her think," said Neel Lattimore, the first lady's spokesman. "These were not seances."

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