President Reagan continued his rapid improvement yesterday from a gunshot wound, but some of his top aides said he won't be rushing back to a full work schedule right away.
"We're going to do what the doctors say," said a well-placed White House source who added that there is some concern that Reagan's rapid recovery may encourage him to do more than he should.
Both Nancy Reagan and deputy chief of staff Michael K. Deaver, a longtime aide, are said to share this concern.
Reagan continued to make further progress yesterday and his temperature remained near normal for a second day, according to a medical bulletin. But White House physician Daniel Ruge, responding to a question through a press office spokesman, acknowledged that Reagan's age may slow his recovery because "defense mechanisms in older patients are not as good as they are in younger patients."
Ruge added that the president is in good physical condition, that his ability to manage a fever was "a very good sign" and that he is making a speedier recovery than the typical 70-year-old.
Nonetheless, the White House declined to predict when the president will be released from the hospital, though it is still expected to be sometime this week. But aides said that a number of previously scheduled activities are likely to be postponed, including a nationwide television address on the economy that had been planned for April 15 and a trip to California and Mexico scheduled to begin April 23.
On the trip, Reagan was to meet with Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo in Tijuana and attend his daughter Maureen's wedding in Los Angeles.
Both the televised speech and the meeting with Lopez Portillo will be rescheduled.
"We're committed to a continuing dialogue with the Mexican government and a meeting with President Portillo," a White House aide said.
Reagan yesterday gave a firsthand account of the shooting to two FBI agents who were brought into the president's room at George Washington University Hospital for a 28 minute interview.
In another hospital-room meeting, H. Stuart Knight, head of the Secret Service, and John Simpson, assistant director of protective services, paid a five-minute courtesy call on the president. Knight was accompanied by Jerry Parr, head of Reagan's protective detail and the man who shoved the president into his limousine when he was shot outside the Washington Hilton Hotel on March 30.
"I want you to know how proud I am of your service," the president was quoted as saying. "I am personally grateful."
The White House is exploring how to better protect the president. As part of this effort, deputy press secretary Larry Speakes requested yesterday that news organizations refrain from publishing in advance the times at which the president or vice president will appear in public.
The Washington Post, Washington Star, Associated Press and United Press International agreed to abide by this request temporarily without making a commitment to do so on a permanent basis.
Vice President Bush visited Reagan yesterday, then spoke to a partisan audience at the Washington Hilton.
In a speech to a GOP Senate and House fund-raising dinner, Bush declared that Republicans were now "the party of the people" and that it was "government's first duty to protect the people, not to run their lives."
There was more good news yesterday about the condition of White House press secretary James S. Brady, shot in the head in the attack on Reagan. Brady sat up in bed and drank water by himself, according to a medical report, and the bandages have been removed from his head.
Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, who may have saved Reagan's life when he took a bullet in the stomach, was released from GW Hospital.
"It's great to be alive and it's grand to be Irish," said McCarthy as he headed for a Mexican vacation with his wife.