The First Ladies' Public Truce

By Donnie Radcliffe and Sarah Booth Conroy
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 10, 1987; 12:00 AM

Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev yesterday denied reports that they don't get along -- not in a joint communique' exactly, but nevertheless in a joint appearance during a 45-minute tour of the White House.

Mrs. Reagan may have thought she had dealt with the question once and for all when she talked to reporters while awaiting the arrival of her Soviet guest. The whole idea of competition between them, she said, was "so silly. It's so silly."

But in the East Room, where the two wound up the tour, the question popped up again. This time it was aimed at Mrs. Gorbachev. Mrs. Reagan looked aghast. Mrs. Gorbachev merely looked at Mrs. Reagan.

"I've answered that five times," snapped Mrs. Reagan.

"Everything is all right," noted Mrs. Gorbachev, her face betraying none of the emotion Mrs. Reagan seemed to feel. "And Mrs. Reagan gave the answer. She is the hostess and that was her word."

Nevertheless, the contrasting public personas of the two women were very much in evidence yesterday as Mrs. Gorbachev twice resisted Mrs. Reagan's attempts to steer her away from the press. Making it apparent that she wanted to chat longer, Mrs. Gorbachev at one point pulled her hand away from Mrs. Reagan's and turned to answer questions.

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