Most of the Cabinet and thousands of cheering supporters gave President Reagan a band-playing, flag-waving welcome back from the summit Friday, and he told them, "There's no place like home."
Reagan and his wife, Nancy, arrived at Andrews Air Force Base from the Moscow meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev and a stopover in London, and were greeted by a cheering crowd that jammed into Hangar 3 at the invitation of the White House.Their applause reached a peak as the president walked down the ramp of Air Force One and was greeted by Vice President George Bush and a majority of his Cabinet.
More than 20 Seventh-graders from the Drane Middle School in Corsicana, Texas, waved flags and held up signs, one of which proclaimed, "Another One for the Gipper."
The White House invited 4,000 members of the Republican National Committee, congressional staff members, political appointees and their families, and servicemen. All but a few seats in bleachers that lined the hangar walls were filled.
"As some of you may have heard, Mr. Gorbachev and I have been trading Russian proverbs this week," Reagan said at the beginning of his arrival address.
"But, you know, flying back across the Atlantic today it was an American saying that kept running through my mind. Believe me, as far as Nancy and I are concerned: `There's no place like home."'
Gazing at the people, many of whom were dressed in red and white or blue and white, Reagan declared, "All this red, white and blue scenery hits these two weary travelers right where we live."
Reagan said, "We're a little tired," and he looked it.
"But we're exhilarated at what has happened, exhilarated too at the thought of the future and what may lie ahead for the young people of America and all the world."
The White House had hoped to hold the arrival gala outside, but the threat of rain caused a switch in plans and the rally was held in the hangar used in recent years for such occasions. It was in the same spot in the early 1970s that President Nixon was greeted by a crowd of well-wishers on his return from the first presidential trip to China.
Bush, whom Reagan has endorsed in this year's presidential election, stood with Reagan on a raised podium and said, "Welcome home and well done."
He lauded Reagan for urging Gorbachev during the talks in Moscow to improve human rights conditions in the Soviet Union, and the vice president said, "What's wrong with telling the other guy how you feel."
Before Reagan's arrival, organizers of the event handed out small American flags to the people in the audience and a 39-member Air Force band played martial music to warm up the crowd.