6. Editorial Note
On May 1, 1980, Wall Street Journal reporters Albert Hunt and Thomas Bray interviewed Republican candidate for President Ronald Reagan aboard Reagan’s campaign plane. After asking Reagan questions concerning fiscal and monetary policy and the most recent Republican presidential administrations, Hunt and Bray then turned to foreign policy. The previous week, the Jimmy Carter administration had launched a rescue operation to free the American hostages held in Iran. On April 25, Carter announced to the American public that the operation had been aborted, and that American casualties had ensued during the attempt. The reporters initiated the foreign policy segment of the interview by referencing these recent developments, asking: “WSJ: On the current situation in Iran. Do you think the most important issue or priority now is that of the hostages themselves, or the overall strategic situation in the area?”
Reagan replied: “Well, I don’t think you can divorce the two. I think you have to weigh the importance of those hostages and their continuing being held, to what it means to the United States—the possible threat to the United States, and to other Americans, when seemingly someone with so little power can get away with a thing of this.
“Is anyone safe in an American Embassy anywhere?
“That’s why I just—I think that, you know, I just don’t understand the President’s words about now the burden isn’t so great, it’s as if, with this failed mission, is he washing his hands of it? Is he saying: ‘Well, we’ll continue to think about them, but there isn’t anything we can do about them?’”
The reporters then asked: “Do you fear that the Iranians are either being driven or are moving more and more into the Soviet camp? And if so, what would you propose to do about that?”
Reagan replied: “Well, there’s confusion about whether Khomeini feels this way; he’s taken some action and made some statements that would appear that he does not want Soviet influence in there either.
“On the other hand there is no question of the Soviet influence with regard to the revolution to begin with, with that radio station across the border pumping away at the people with propaganda, with the presence of the Communist Party in Iran, which has been a factor.”
The reporters asked: “If it became evident that they were, though, moving directly more into the Soviet camp, do you think the United States should take action, covert or overt, to stop that?”
Reagan responded: “I think the United States—we have to recognize, all of us, that this would be one of the most serious threats to the [Page 19] Middle East, and to our security and that of our allies, of anything that has been done so far.” The interview continued with questions about Cuba, defense spending, and U.S. allies, among other topics. (Albert Hunt and Thomas Bray, “An Interview With Ronald Reagan,” Wall Street Journal, May 6, 1980, page 26)