October 22, 1980 – The Embassy Hostage Drama And The October Surprise.
News for this October 22nd in 1980, in addition to feverish campaigning on the parts of the Carter and Reagan camps, was word that a possible breakthrough in negotiations for the 50 Americans held hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was taking place.
But like much of the situation taking place in that region, there was a ball of confusion attached to it. According to the Kyodo News Agency in Japan, a high ranking official in Tehran claimed the hostages were no longer an important issue in Iran, having served their purpose. It gave hope to the U.S. the hostages would be released soon, at least for a little while, as the story changed a few hours later, and kept bouncing back and forth between denials. Even so, it was announced in Tehran that, if the U.S. met some of the negotiation points, it could be as soon as the following week that the hostages could be released. Diplomatic circles were heard to remark they had been on that yo-yo string before and were taking a wait-and-see attitude.
Meanwhile, the Iran-Iraq War was blazing ahead, with Tehran reporting that Iranian bombers hit Baghdad and Baghdad reporting counter attacks on important rail lines and the siege of Khorramshahr continued. Both sides were reporting substantial casualties in a war that didn’t look like ending any time soon.
Carter Administration officials poo-pooed the idea that Reagan claimed to have “a plan” to end the hostage drama. Carter maintained a thin lead over Reagan in the midst of what was being considered a lackluster election season, despite word that an “October Surprise” was slated to arrive soon.