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ronald reagan

The Great Communicator

What stands out in Reagan’s life before his presidency? How did Reagan’s dream of becoming a sports broadcaster lead to his acting career? What is his relevance in today’s society? Bob Spitz joins Dan and Amy discuss his new book, “REAGAN: An American Journey.”

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Should Hinckley Be Released From Prison? Chief Tim McCarthy, Who Took A Bullet For Reagan, Weighs In

Would-be President Reagan assassin John Hinckley, Jr., will be released from prison to live with his mother in Virginia. Should someone who tried to assassinate the President off the United States be released? Should those Hinckley shot and wounded (and ultimately killed in the case of James Brady) be at least informed if not solicited for their views prior to his release? Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy who took a bullet for Ronald Reagan as a Secret Service officer in 1981 joined Dan & Amy to discuss these and other questions.

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Dan Proft: March 30th, 1981. The day that John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Reagan and shot Secret Service agent at the time Tim McCarthy, took a bullet for the President of the United States in the line of duty as did the press secretary, Jim Brady. Amy Jacobson: Yeah, and another DC police officer was hit too. Dan Proft: And it was announced yesterday towards the end of our show that John Hinckley Jr. is going to be released from prison after 35 years in to live with his mother in Virginia and this has raised some obvious questions like should someone who attempted to assassinate the President of the United States and catastrophically injured a number of the President's aides including the a Secret Service agent and as you said a DC police officer, should that person ever be released from prison? Amy Jacobson: And he was released with several conditions. He has to continue his mental health treatment. He’s not allowed to talk to the media. Good luck with that. And he can try and contact the victims or their families or actress Jodie Foster. But that’s it. Dan Proft: Yeah, that doesn't quite clear the threshold I think should be said for someone who tried to assassinate the President of the United States but why don't we get the opinion of an American hero on this matter. He is former Secret Service agent and long time Orland Park Police Chief, happy to have him right here in the Chicago metropolitan area, Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy. Chief McCarthy, thanks so much for joining us again. Appreciate it. Tim McCarthy: Good morning, Dan. Good morning, Amy. Dan Proft: So your reaction to the Hinckley announcement? Tim McCarthy: Well, it was not unexpected based upon what's been happening over the past 10, 20 years of being released under some supervision then less supervision so it did not surprise me that this happened. I can't say that I totally agree with it by the way for a person who almost assassinated a President of the United States, murdered Jim Brady who died from his injuries, from his wound to his head and then shot two law enforcement officers. So they better be right because the consequences could be catastrophic. Amy Jacobson: But you're not a vengeful person and you believe in redemption but do you really think that if somebody tries to assassinate the President and actually shoots them that they should ever see freedom? Tim McCarthy: You would think not. We did have Sara Jane Moore however who attempted to assassinate President Ford many years ago it and was released. The differences however, first of all she certainly intended to assassinate the President but didn't strike him right and she was found guilty. With Mr Hinckley, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity so we have a totally different standard here to determine if he's a danger to himself or others. And you know medicine is very, very good but it's not a totally exact science either. And I think one of the things that probably should have happened is it would have been a simple courtesy to notify victims that this was going to happen before it did happen. Now Sarah and Jim Brady are both dead but they have a son who's about 35 or 36 years old. The Reagans have children and I'm sure they would’ve liked to have been notified ahead of time or even allowed the opportunity to express their opinion of this and certainly they were the ones most affected by this. Amy Jacobson: And you weren't warned either that he was going to be released? Tim McCarthy: No. Now in 35 years, they have notified me it in the past of when they were going to release him but I asked them to stop that because it was happening so often that it was like a daily telephone but I've never been asked my opinion about whether he should be released or not and I don't know that the Bradys, while both of them were alive, had ever been asked or the Reagan's or the Delahantys, if they’d ever been asked. Dan Proft: Do you, I’m sorry, I didn’t meant to interrupt. Tim McCarthy: No, it would’ve been just a simple courtesy, you know, to do that if for no other reason than to get prepared for the onslaught of interviews. Dan Proft: Yeah, right. Well, so do you keep in touch with former colleagues and Secret Service? I just wonder what those who have the same job today that you had 35 years ago, what impact that has on the way they do their job or their thinking about the job or people that whether they're mentally ill or just consumed by evil would consider such an act as trying to assassinate the President or other people the Secret Service protects? Tim McCarthy: You know, law enforcement, you know, it's a tough business. It always was and still is and of course it's under a little bit more focus now than it ever has been but I stay in contact with many of the former agents, many current agents here in the Chicago division of the Secret Service as well as in Washington and it will not change one thing as to how dedicated they are to do the job. So it will have absolutely no effect whatsoever. It might even, you know, cause them to, you know, even be more vigilant than they were before because we know that mental illnesses is a big problem in our society too to the point where my police department like many others, we now have a critical incident teams, crisis intervention teams to handle many of the problems with the mentally ill because funds have been cut so much. So mental illness is a thing we're going to be facing for a long, long time with far less resources than we had in the past. Amy Jacobson: And the assassination attempt, that video is used as a training tool, correct? For the current Secret Service agents? Tim McCarthy: Yeah, yeah. It is used and it is one of the principles that is used by the Secret Service to cover and evacuate the President in the event of an assassination attempt or what's referred to as the arms’ reach theory, if the threat is within arms' reach to go after the threat but, you know, if there's a perceived threat that's 20, 30 yards away, one of the agents on perimeter cannot respond to that or you're leaving an opening in and around the protectee. So those are two principles that are drilled into you, Amy, in lots and lots of training and guess what? It works. It works pretty well. Dan Proft: And then you also have to watch in the Line of Fire, you have to watch all these sorts of movies. Of course. Tim McCarthy: Yes, that’s where you really get your training. Dan Proft: It's kind of wild actual in Chicago to have a bit of the Alpha and the Omega. We have Tim McCarthy, the Secret Service agent took a bullet for the President, stopped an assassination attempt effectively, part of the group that did and then we have Bill Ayers, a retired university professor and a taxpayer-funded pension who dedicated one of his books to Sirhan Sirhan who assassinated Bobby Kennedy. It's an interesting mix of people we have in the Chicago metropolitan area, isn't it, Tim? Tim McCarthy: I guess so. It's pretty remarkable. Dan Proft: You mention of what it's like to be a police officer in these days and with the assassinations of police officers and the antagonism towards police officers, I wonder how you view the politicization of police in a way that maybe hasn't been seen since the late 60s? Tim McCarthy: It's really an unfortunate situation and police do make mistakes. This is a split second business that we’re in and mistakes are made. And those that are made, you know, have to be addressed and we have to be accountable. On the other hand, it's unfortunate when people use them simply for political purposes because in my own town, we have a 180,000 incidents per year which includes everything, traffic stops, and we got 25 or 30 complaints as a result of that. City of Chicago probably not a whole lot different and most of the time, 99.9% of the time, they're doing the job, a very difficult job, doing it extremely well in Chicago under very difficult circumstances and some of the things that have been done, you know, it's been politicized. We have to be accountable. We have to be accountable for what happens. Let's keep in mind the nature of this work. And then there's some actions that are so outrageous which include the assassination of the police officers that they're almost unspeakable and the same can be said and, you know, there's been a couple of occasions where police officer misconduct has also been outrageous. So it happens. It will continue to happen. We hope it never happens but it's a split second business what goes on in this profession and there is no training in the world that's ever going to prevent that and soldiers in combat from time to time make mistakes. Police officers make mistakes too. Amy Jacobson: Quickly wanted to go back to the release of John Hinckley Jr. I know that both Nancy and Ronald Reagan have transitioned into heaven and do you think what their reaction would be if they knew that he was going to be released? Tim McCarthy: Well, I can tell you that they - I don't know what they might think but they were very forgiving people too. Mrs Reagan a little bit less, I will tell you that. Amy Jacobson: Because you were close to her, didn’t you attend her funeral/ Tim McCarthy: Yes, my wife and I, we both attended the funeral in California and we've been out to visit, it was about a year before we fly out to visit with Mrs Reagan when her health was failing and none of us probably had a whole lot of good Christian thoughts about John Hinckley, let’s put it that way but certainly for myself and I know for the Reagans, there was not vengeful or anything like that. Just would like to see justice done. Dan Proft: See justice done, yes. Orland Park Police Chief, former Secret Service agent, Tim McCarthy. Chief McCarthy, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate your time. Tim McCarthy: You’re welcome.

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Fmr AG Ed Meese: Reagans Would be "Totally Shocked" by POTUS '16 Campaign

Ed Meese, who served as US Attorney General in President Reagan's second term, joined Dan & Amy this morning to discuss the impact of First Lady Nancy Reagan. Meese also suggested that The Reagans would be "totally shocked" by the tone and tenor of the 2016 POTUS campaign.

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Dan Proft: Good morning - Dan and Amy; the funeral service for First Lady Nancy Reagan is Friday. President Obama not attending. Amy Jacobson: No, he said he’d be at the South by Southwest film exhibit in Austin, Texas. Dan Proft: Sure, he’s got to have some fun. Amy Jacobson: Yeah, and Michelle Obama will be there; Hillary Clinton will be there; former First Ladies, so that’s good; and possibly Rosalynn Carter. Dan Proft: Well, we are now pleased and honored to be joined by someone who knew both President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan very well; he was Ronald Reagan’s Attorney General for a time in his second term, and actually dates back to serving Reagan administrations when Ronald Reagan was Governor of California. He is former United State’s Attorney General Ed Meese, and he joins us now; Attorney General Meese, thanks so much for joining us. Ed Meese: Glad to be with you! Good morning. Dan Proft: Good morning! Are you making your way to the service for Nancy Reagan on Friday? Ed Meese: I am indeed, and I will be there tomorrow, in Los Angeles. Dan Proft: Tell us how we should remember or consider Nancy Reagan in the annals of American history, maybe in ways that are readily presented by the media. Ed Meese: I think we should be remembering Nancy Reagan as one of the great First Ladies in our country’s history; and the person who gave tremendous support and encouragement to Ronald Reagan and really, in many ways, was very helpful to him, so that he became such a successful president as he has been, such a successful Governor; but I think also we should remember Nancy – because she did a number of things herself, one of which, and perhaps most significant, was her joining Ronald Reagan in the campaign against illegal drugs; and I would say that she was responsible through that campaign for saving hundreds of thousands of lives, particularly the young people, because during the period that his strategies were in effect, from 1982 to 1992, we actually lowered drug abuse in the United States by over 50%. And a part of that was Nancy Reagan’s emphasis on the idea ‘Just say no’, which was the answer she gave to young lady, who when she was campaigning on the drug deal, just said ‘What should I do when people offer me drugs?’, so that’s when Nancy kind of spontaneously said ‘Just say no!’ Amy Jacobson: Yeah, and it was so direct and into the point, I loved it. What made her start this ‘Just say no’ campaign, and why was she involved with trying to convince young people to stay off drugs? Ed Meese: Well, I think it was Ronald Reagan felt this was one of the most important things he was dealing with, domestically; obviously he was working on the economic problems we faced, which were tremendous; we had the Cold War; but also, he recognized the strength of this country was being sapped by so many young people engaging in the illegal use of drugs; that this was a long term problem that he ought to be attacking, and that’s why having Nancy take that portfolio on was a very important part of his presidency. Dan Proft: Both Nancy and President Reagan seemed to have a sense of decorum and propriety, class and grace about them, even if you disagreed with their policy choices; I wonder how you think they would react to the tone and tenor of the presidential campaign that has unfolded before us. Ed Meese: I honestly believe they would be absolutely shocked. What we’ve seen here in what looks like a food fight on some low level college dorm is not something that they would countenance or be involved in; and it’s just totally different from the general climate that they created, which was one of respect and dignity; it wasn’t stuffy, but at the same time there was a certain decorum that just went with the job, went with the office. Amy Jacobson: Does it infuriate you when people like Donald Trump compare themselves to Ronald Reagan? ‘I was a democrat too; Ronald Reagan was’, and now I’m a Republican. Ed Meese: Well, Ronald Reagan changed from Democrat to Republican very early in his career, and when he was a Democrat, he was a far different democrat than what the democrats stand for today. It was pointed that John F. Kennedy couldn’t be elected today as a Democrat, with the policies that are being promulgated by the candidates that are in that party today. Dan Proft: Yeah, I don’t see Donald Trump ever giving a time for choosing type of speech for some reason; but Attorney General Meese, in terms of Reagan’s power as a communicator, because now as we’re reflecting on Nancy, you can’t help but reflect on Reagan and the 7 fat years that’s ‘Making America great again really’, during the 1980’ as president Reagan did confronting the Evil Empire and the like, and it seems to me what Reagan’s genius was in communicating was speaking with moral clarity on the saline issues of the day, and perhaps republicans have lost their way on emulating Ronald Reagan rather than just recalling him, and this has given way to the rise of a Donald Trump. Ed Meese: I think that that’s correct. I think, for one thing,Republicans have not been clear on what their objectives are and what they’re trying to do; instead there have been many situations, particularly in Congress, in both Houses, where over the past 7 years they’ve almost given up prematurely to what Obama wanted to do, and they’ve not carried through on their promises. Amy Jacobson: Now we know she was utterly devoted to her husband. I mean, it was just a beautiful true real romance that we got to be a part of. They having to be the President and the First Lady, but how did she shape Ronald Reagan politically; is it true that she talked him into dealing with Gorbachev? Ed Meese: I think it was the other way around. I think she followed his lead, and it was his lead – with Gorbachev, for example – he had talked with Margaret Thatcher and they both agreed that this was a person that they both thought they could do business with, and it turned out to be correct. Ronald Reagan had this respect for other people; even when they were opponents on policy, or on legislation, or in this case in international affairs; and it was this respect that he had that naturally then provided a basis on which to deal, and on which to try to reach some sort of consensus, and so that was he was able to work with Gorbachev, for example, to remove a whole class of nuclear weapons from Europe, because there was the feeling, on the part of Gorbachev, that Ronald Reagan would keep his word and he was dealing honestly with him. Dan Proft: We’re talking to former United States Attorney General Ed Meese, and Attorney General Meese, you’re a legal scholar in your own right, I know you’re on the board of directors on the Federal Society - it’s a great organization for young originalist lawyers; we’re mourning the passing of Nancy Reagan shortly after we’ve mourned the passing of Antonin Scalia; a report out yesterday that don – excuse me, jumping the gun - President Obama is meeting with prospective supreme court nominees, and I wonder, as you reflect back over the last 30 years, since you served as Attorney General, if you think that this country is getting away – on both sides of the aisle – getting away from the rule of law and succumbing to the rule of men, and if you see that as a real danger on the horizon. Ed Meese: I think this is a real danger, and I think it is important that we go back to the constitution; that we’ve had nominees for the Supreme Court who when they were undergoing hearings before the Senate promised that they would follow the Constitution, and yet, when they got into the Supreme Court Chambers themselves had been voting on cases exactly the opposite, in terms of following the Constitution; and I think we need to go back to the Declaration of Independence, with its promise of freedom, consent of the govern, those kinds of concepts, as well as the Constitution itself; if we’re going to have the kind of country that the founders gave us, and which it’s our job and each generation to preserve. Amy Jacobson: Is there anyone in particular that you’d like to see next as a Supreme Court Justice? Ed Meese: Well, I think there are a number of them, but I’d better not mention anybody; I’m sure that would jinx it. Dan Proft: Alright. He is former United State’s Attorney General Ed Meese, also involved in the Federal Society; also involved in the Constitution Project at the Heritage Foundation; Attorney General Meese, real pleasure; it’s a real honor to speak with you. Thanks so much for your time. Ed Meese: Thank you, good to have been with you.

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Dan & Amy Remember Nancy Reagan w/ Tim McCarthy, Secret Service Agent Who Took a Bullet for Reagan

This morning, Dan & Amy interviewed American hero Tim McCarthy, a decorated Secret Service agent who took a bullet for President Reagan during the 1981 assassination attempt, who remembered fondly First Lady Nancy Reagan. Their families shared a special relationship after both Tim and President Reagan were shot in the line of duty. McCarthy will attend Mrs. Reagan's funeral service on Friday. McCarthy, a Leo High School grad, has served as the Police Chief of Orland Park, IL, since 1994. 

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Dan Proft: Dan and Amy; so Amy, interesting piece in New York Post by Peter Robinson. Peter Robinson was a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan; wrote an excellent book, actually; it’s maybe 10 or 12 years old, ‘How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life’; “Why Nancy Reagan was the indispensable woman”, writes Peter Robinson. He recounts two stories in his piece. This one I thought it was appropriate, in advance about our next guest. He recalls standing behind President Reagan in the Rose Garden one morning, as he delivered remarks that Robinson had drafted to an audience of young people, girl scouts, as he recalls; Robinson said his performance was a little bit off that day – his pacing was off, he seemed detached – and he writes, “for once, I think Ronald Reagan was having a bad day; then the movement on the second floor of the residence caught Reagan’s eye; he glanced up; Mrs. Reagan was standing at the window; she smiled, the president beamed, she waved, he waved back, and then he had everyone in the Rose Garden turn around and wave too; when he returned to his remarks, the president picked up the pace, appearing more involved and energetic, even more younger; a smile and a wave from Nancy – they were all Ronald Reagan needed”. Nice story; there’s a lot of nice stories, of course, flowing in; remembrances. We’re now pleased to be joined by another guest, another gentleman with a lot of memories of serving the Reagan's and serving this country honorably. He is Tim McCarthy – long time police chief of Orland Park, but before that he spent 22 years in the Secret Service, and of course most people who lived through the assassination attempt in 1981 remember that Tim McCarthy took a bullet for the President of the United States. We are honored to have Chief Tim McCarthy join us. Chief, thanks for joining us, appreciate it. Tim McCarthy: Good morning, Dan. Dan Proft: I noticed on your bio, on the Village of Orland Park website, it mentions your 22 years of service in the United States Secret Service before becoming the Police Chief in Orland Park, but it doesn’t mention the assassination attempt and your role. Is there any reason for that? Tim McCarthy: No, Dan, I don’t think so. It’s something I’m very proud of, but I did what I was trained to do on that particular day; but I also did other things in the Secret Service, and none equally as important, I’m sure; I’m very proud of it, and I’m not looking for a job at the moment, and if I do, I’ll let him know about that too. Dan Proft: Okay, fair enough. Amy Jacobson: Chief McCarthy, after you took the bullet for Ronald Reagan and you developed a closer relationship with First Lady Nancy Reagan; tell me about that. Tim McCarthy: Well, naturally, after something like that, first of all, the President – Mrs. Reagan had no idea who Tim McCarthy was prior to that; there’s an awful lot of agents assigned to protect the president and the line agents, like myself; work three shifts, rotate every three weeks – so he really didn’t know me at all, nor did Mrs. Reagan, but after that, you know, on the day of the shooting, my wife was in the chapel praying with Mrs. Brady and Mrs. Reagan for the recovery of everyone; and it’s just natural when you go through a critical incident like that, that you often draw closer than you might otherwise, and of course, the consequences of losing a President are catastrophic, not just for the family, but the country and the world also. I think Mrs. Reagan understood all of those things and the consequences of something if they had lost the President. Dan Proft: What was it like – just develop what happened in terms of the relationship as you and James Brady and President Reagan were recovering from the injuries you sustained. Tim McCarthy: The first time I’ve really met the President and Mrs. Reagan in person, on a personal basis, is the day I got out of the hospital; I got out of the hospital after 12 days, but received a message to come down to see the President, who was still in the hospital for another week or so after I left; and it sounded a bit like an order, so I complied, and two of my children, at that time, went down to visit with the President and Mrs. Reagan in his room; he was still connected to a lot of different devices and so forth; my wife asserted nervous that the kids at that time found those devices all too interesting. Amy Jacobson: Oh yeah, don’t touch that button. Tim McCarthy: Exactly, and my wife was afraid that my kids were going to finish off the President. Amy Jacobson: What did he say to you and what did Nancy Reagan say to you? Tim McCarthy: We had a wonderful visit, and Mrs. Reagan said ‘Tim, we’re going to get together after this, because we certainly want to show our appreciation and so on’. I didn’t really know how that was going to happen, but lo and behold, they did invite us to parties at the White House, and it’s this time of the year they invite us to the St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon, and I was sitting at a table with the President, Maureen O'hara and Chip O'neal, and my wife was at a table with Mrs. Reagan and other hollywood and political celebrities, and it was kind of hard to fit in the conversation, I got to tell you, it was a little bit above my pay grade, but everyone was more than gracious and over the years the president constantly singled out myself and Mrs. Reagan as well, at different events, and sometimes it was a bit embarrassing, because I was actually past on the shift working the president as I was before, and it sometimes got embarrassing to be singled out, but in private, many times they would go out of their way to send a gift on different holidays and things like that. So Mrs. Reagan – I supervised the men and women assigned to protect her, and often traveled with her when she went overseas, to protect her in places that might appear to be a high threat level. We had a lot of conversations about many different things, including her husband, because – as you know – she certainly was instrumental in his political career; going from a Hollywood actor to Governor of California and president of the United States. She certainly had a lot of input into his presidency. Dan Proft: And what were those conversations like, the personal time you spent with First Lady, traveling around the world, even after the story has been written in terms of he’s in the second term as President of the United States, so this is the sunset of his political career; I wonder if Nancy Reagan changed at all during the time while you were still in the political realm. Tim McCarthy: She was first and foremost concerned about his safety when we had our conversations. Every now and again she would talk about his image, and how she felt maybe someone was unfair in regards to their covering the President, and to those that were fair, and I had little comments about that; that was really none of my business, but it was really interesting, so I’d probably just nod my head most of the time, but she would talk about when the President’s going on a trip here, and a trip there, and you know, I saw the advance team was already out, everything they’ve done is speed time, you know, the fast and the foreign governments that worked with us, from what I’m hearing; so she was logically concerned about that when we had conversations. Amy Jacobson: What was your last conversation with Nancy Reagan and when was the last time you saw her; and I assume you were heading to the funeral on Friday, correct? Tim McCarthy: We’re looking at the – yeah, we received notifications Saturday morning, so the logistics are going to be pretty tough, but we were on March of '14, my wife and I, we flew out to visit Mrs. Reagan and go to the library, and we went to the home in Bel Air, which way back when, when Mrs. Reagan was looking for a house, I went out there with her along with her whole security detail and a couple of top secret flights to California, to go house hunting, which naturally they didn’t want to publicize what houses they were looking at, or that they were even there. But there’s March of '14, and we were out there and my wife and I went to visit her, and she was in a wheelchair at the time, but eventually she was totally sharp, and totally in touch with everything going on, and I think the one thing I’ll remember is when we were leaving – first, we were there for about 45 minutes, and I didn’t know if we were getting her overly tired, so I said ‘Mrs. Reagan, maybe we’ll get going’, she said ‘Absolutely not; don’t go anywhere’; so we stayed for another hour, just discussing old times and the President and different experiences we had together, but at the end, when we walked out, she got out of her wheelchair and physically walked us to the door; she held onto my arm pretty tightly and her nurse that was there said she hadn’t went out of the chair in some time. But what I will remember is that a couple of weeks ago, in February, it was the President’s birthday, and I sent out a dozen red roses to Mrs. Reagan, just in memory of her husband, and she sent – it was just a week after that, the last week in February – she sent a really nice note back, thanked me for remembering, and that type of thing. Amy Jacobson: You got to frame that note. Tim McCarthy: Yeah, I will, you can count on that. It was funny, my wife and I were coming home from Indiana on Sunday morning when we first heard about her passing, and my wife – saying to Carol ‘Carol, I think I have my folder here in the car; I think I have the note she just sent us’; and I did, so it was fond memories of two wonderful people that had one remarkable life story; going from Hollywood actor and actresses to the White House; a heck of a story, and of course all Presidents accomplished a lot of things, and president Reagan had some significant accomplishments as well. Amy Jacobson: You’re making me cry. Dan Proft: Alright, he is long time Orland Park police chief, Secret Service agent, and I think people… Amy Jacobson: All around good guy. Dan Proft: He’s a bit modest, which I think it’s okay, but I think it’s fair to call Tim McCarthy an American hero; I think most people would say that, deservedly so; and we certainly appreciate your time, Chief McCarthy, and your remembrances of Nancy Reagan. Thanks so much for joining us. Tim McCarthy: Thanks Dan, thanks Amy.

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