December 28, 1980 – “I Don’t Think You Pay Ransom For People Who’ve Been Kidnapped By Barbarians” – President-Elect Reagan
December 28, 1980 – As the hostage drama dragged on for some 421 days, diplomatic efforts were continuing, with three Ambassadors to Algeria reporting back to President Carter on their visit to the 52 captives in Tehran.
While the Carter White House was still holding negotiations in an effort to free the hostages, incoming President-Elect Reagan had a differing take on the matter. While at his ranch in Pacific Palisades, Reagan was asked about the situation and the new ransom figure being offered by the captors. Reagan offered a stiff response; “I don’t think you pay ransom for people who’ve been kidnapped by Barbarians”. Naturally, it didn’t bode well for the Iranian captors, with a new President, poised to take office in less than a month, to have to deal with a President known for his “shoot from the hip” style of negotiations. He didn’t offer an alternative to the situation – it was still a few weeks off before taking office.
The statement however, brought a quick reaction from both Tehran and the families of the 52 American hostages who condemned the wording of the statement as inflammatory and counterproductive. A top aide to Reagan, Edwin Meese told interviewers on the CBS News program Face The Nation, not to expect a better deal with Ronald Reagan than with Jimmy Carter. On NBC’s Meet The Press, National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinksi was asked if he agreed with Reagan’s assertion that the Iranians were kidnappers and criminals. Brzezinski replied the act was completely against all diplomatic norms and that he agreed with the in-coming President.
Meanwhile, President Carter was still in some discomfort following his skiing accident which left him with a broken collar-bone. Doctors said he was not immobilized and would still be able to continue carrying out his duties.
And that’s a small slice of what went on, this December 28, 1980 as reported by CBS Radio‘s Hourly News.