For a moment, it was almost like the 1980s again at the White House.
"When you say Mr. President, you know who I think you're talking about," George Bush told reporters.He pointed to Ronald Reagan, whom he served dutifully as vice president for eight years before succeeding him in January 1989.
The vignette Thursday, on a porch overlooking the Rose Garden, came as the president and ex-president met for the fourth time since Reagan's return to California.
Bush called on Reagan in Los Angeles a few months after taking office, hosted him at the White House in November 1989 for the unveiling of the official Reagan portrait, and met him again at the opening of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California in July.
The White House issued no report on their private meeting in the Oval Office, which followed the brief remarks outside. Bush said beforehand that they would talk about gun control, among other issues.
In a speech at George Washington University earlier in the day, Reagan told a cheering crowd that he supports proposed federal legislation requiring a seven-day waiting period before buying a handgun, so that the buyer's past record can be checked.
Bush opposes it, although the White House suggested Thursday he might look more favorably on it if Congress approved his own anti-crime proposals.
A reporter spotted Reagan on a White House walkway after the meeting and asked him if he had converted Bush to his view.
"I'm trying to," the former president said.
Former first lady Nancy Reagan skipped the White House visit, since first lady Barbara Bush was out of town, and went to a tea given at the Bethesda, Md., home of socialite Buffy Cafritz.
When asked if she had convinced her husband to come out for the waiting-period bill, Mrs. Reagan looked surprised and said, "Oh, no! It was his idea."
At GWU, the former president and first lady were reunited with the medical team that cared for him at the university's medical center after he was shot by John W. Hinckley Jr. 10 years ago Saturday.
"He was near death, and that's no exaggeration," said Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president of the university. "They saved the president's life."
"I think there was an unspoken agreement that none of us would let the public know how serious it was, and how close we came to losing him," said Mrs. Reagan. "I was so afraid that I would leave the hospital alone."