President Reagan says that he is not shrugging off reports that he is a target of a Libyan assassination squad but that the possibility is "not going to change my life much."
Reagan said Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi "has made it obvious that he is against most of the things that we're trying to achieve, such as peace in the Middle East, appealing to the moderate Arab nations and so forth."
"As to his threats personally against me, I think in view of the record, you can't dismiss them out of hand. On the other hand, they're not going to change my life much. Beyond that, I never comment on security matters," Reagan said.
The president, returning from a fund-raising speech in Cincinnati, was interviewed aboard Air Force One Monday night by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the White House released a transcript yesterday.
The administration is concerned about reports that a Libyan assassination team is trying to enter or has entered the United States with a mission to kill Reagan or top administration officials, sources say. Security around the president has been tightened in recent weeks, according to sources.
On the economy, Reagan said his goal was to have a "single-digit" inflation rate next year and he would like to see interest rates drop to 10 percent, which he said would be especially helpful to the housing and automobile industries.
Asked if a 10 percent interest rate can be achieved next year, Reagan replied, "No, I can't really tell you on this."
Asked to set a date after which it would be fair to judge the success of his economic program, he said: "I couldn't pin a particular time on it. I think that we have to go by trends."
However, he said, "I would think that we're going to begin to see a turn in the economy before" next November's congressional elections.
The president held out no prospect of immediate help to financially beleaguered states.
"As bad off as many of the states are, who is worse off than the federal government?" Reagan asked, noting that the federal deficit had surpassed $1 trillion. "Any program of help to these states would be coming out of the pockets of the same people that they must tap for taxes."