President Reagan said the United States did itself proud with the selection of George Bush, giving him a mandate to carry on Reagan administration policies of the past eight years.
In his weekly radio address, delivered from Camp David, Md., Reagan also extolled "the glory of the American political system" with its peaceful transition of power."I guess I don't need to tell you I think the United States of America did itself proud with the selection of George Bush as the 41st prsident of the United States and Dan Quayle as his vice president," Reagan said.
"George Bush has gotten his mandate from the American people, the mandate to continue the policies that have brought peace and prosperity, to bring hope and opportunity to all Americans and to expand the frontiers of freedom around the world," Reagan said.
Critics have said, however, that Bush failed to earn a mandate because voters split their vote, electing a Republican president but a Democratic Congress. House Speaker Jim Wright, D-Texas, agreed:
"So if there is any clear mandate, perhaps the American people were telling both parties - both president and Congress - to work together to achieve those things that are so desperately needed to be done for our whole country," Wright said.
"Mr. Bush spoke during the campaign of a kinder, gentler country," Wright said. "We would like very much to help him achieve that goal. I hope we can develop a harmonious working relationship, and as speaker of the House, I pledge my best efforts to that end."
The president praised the "grace and dignity" of Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis, whom he flailed relentlessly on the campaign trail, for the way in which he congratulated Bush.
Speaking of Dukakis, Reagan said: "He ran a tough race, full of energy and purpose and I salute him for his dedication and courage."
Earlier in the week, Reagan cleared the desk for Bush, asking for the resignations of the Cabinet and all top federal appointees. The vice president was expected to return to Washington Monday night or Tuesday morning.
While Reagan does not intend to share his power with Bush during the transition period prior to Jan. 20, foreign leaders who will be visiting the White House next week also will be paying courtesy calls on Bush.