President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama said Nancy Reagan’s example helped prepare them for life in the White House.
Reagan died of congestive heart failure at the age of 94 this morning at her home in Los Angeles. The Reagan Library said she would be laid to rest next to her husband at the Simi Valley institution.
“Nancy Reagan once wrote that nothing could prepare you for living in the White House. She was right, of course. But we had a head start, because we were fortunate to benefit from her proud example, and her warm and generous advice,” the Obamas said in a statement released by the White House.
“Our former First Lady redefined the role in her time here. Later, in her long goodbye with President Reagan, she became a voice on behalf of millions of families going through the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s, and took on a new role, as advocate, on behalf of treatments that hold the potential and the promise to improve and save lives,” they added.
The Obamas extended condolences to the Reagan family, adding, “We remain grateful for Nancy Reagan’s life, thankful for her guidance, and prayerful that she and her beloved husband are together again.”
Those who want to occupy the Oval Office also reacted to her death today, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) releasing a statement stressing that “no matter your party or political ideology, this is a sad day for America.”
“Nancy Reagan was an exemplary first lady. A devoted partner, she was her husband’s most trusted advisor and, as such, served our country well,” Sanders said. “Even after her time in the White House, she was an outspoken advocate for stem-cell research to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Nancy Reagan had a good heart, and she will be dearly missed.”
Former first lady Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton released a joint statement saying they were “deeply saddened” by the news.
“Nancy was an extraordinary woman: a gracious First Lady, proud mother, and devoted wife to President Reagan—her Ronnie. Her strength of character was legendary, particularly when tested by the attempted assassination of the President, and throughout his battle with Alzheimer’s,” the Clintons said. “She leaves a remarkable legacy of good that includes her tireless advocacy for Alzheimer’s research and the Foster Grandparent Program.”
On the GOP side, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he and his wife, Heidi, “lift up prayers of gratitude for the many years of devotion Nancy gave to her husband and her country.”
“We remember especially how dedicated she was to preserving the memories of her husband. She will be deeply missed,” Cruz said. “And we feel the sorrow of the nation. But we remember too that like her husband Nancy was a person of faith.”
“Ronald Reagan said once he could not ‘imagine life without her.’ It is good that they are together again.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called Reagan “a woman of incredible grace and strength who served as an inspiration to an entire generation of Americans” and “chose not only to lead with her distinctive style and poise, but also to take a stand on tough issues, such as the prevention of recreational drug abuse.”
“For conservatives, she has been a powerful living link to her husband’s legacy as one of the greatest modern presidents,” Rubio said. “Through her work with the Reagan Library, she has been active in extending the impact of his leadership and message to a new generation.”
Donald Trump’s campaign did not release a statement on Reagan. The frontrunner in the delegate count tweeted between tweets directed at his foes: “Nancy Reagan, the wife of a truly great President, was an amazing woman. She will be missed!”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich noted that President and Mrs. Reagan have been reunited, “but America and the Reagan family have lost a woman of grace and strength.”
“Nancy Reagan’s dedication to our country was matched only by that of her husband,” Kasich said. “Theirs was one of our nation’s great love stories and a model of shared devotion to our country. America is stronger and better for their service.”