Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is defending his political relationship with President Ronald Reagan today as a slew of articles have dropped questioning if Mr. Gingrich was as close to the conservative icon as Mr.Gingrich has described. One such criticism Gingrich had toward Mr. Reagan was the president’s handling of the Iran-Contra arms for hostage affair.
President Reagan’s toughest period of his presidency was the Iran-Contra affair. In 1985, senior Reagan administration officials secretly allowed the sale of arms to Iran hoping to secure the release of six American hostages and fund the Nicaraguan Contras. The sale of arms to prohibited under the embargo to Iran and funding to the Contras was prohibited under the Boland Amendment.
According to a February 27, 1987 article by James McCartney of Knight-Ridder:
“The question implicitly raised by the report was whether the Reagan presidency is now dead in the water for Reagan’s final two years, or whether the oldest president in the nation’s history, at 76, can muster the energy and the will to rebuild.”
“And some of Reagan’s fervent admirers have already questioned whether he can.
Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., one of the leaders of the conservative movement in the House, said Reagan ‘will never again be the Reagan he was before he blew it’ over Iran.”
President Reagan, who was supportive of the Contras’ cause, was never found to have authorized any money for the sale of arms to the Contras. In fact, it is still unclear to this day if the arms’ sales occurred as a result of any desire to free the hostages.
On March 4, 1987, Reagan spoke to the American people about his disappointment with his administration’s involvement with the Iran-Contra affair saying, “I take full responsibility for my own actions and for those of my administration. As angry as I may be about activities undertaken without my knowledge, I am still accountable for those activities.”