Hillary Clinton Calls Remarks On Nancy Reagan & AIDS “A Mistake”

Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP Images.
Hillary Clinton published an apology on Medium on Saturday, following her inaccurate praise for Nancy Reagan's "low-key advocacy" in the fight against AIDS. "Yesterday, at Nancy Reagan’s funeral, I said something inaccurate when speaking about the Reagans’ record on HIV and AIDS," Clinton writes. "I made a mistake, plain and simple." As former First Lady Nancy Reagan was laid to rest, Hillary Clinton was asked to speak and made a key error in recounting Reagan's history. While lauding Reagan's efforts in stem cell research, Clinton chose to also praise Reagan for her efforts in fighting AIDS, saying, "Because of both President and Mrs. Reagan — in particular, Mrs. Reagan — we started a national conversation. When before, nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it." The only problem is that President and Nancy Reagan wanted nothing to do with the AIDS epidemic gripping America in the 1980s. As the New York Times points out: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first identified the disease in 1981, but Mr. Reagan, despite desperate calls for action and thousands of deaths, did not mention H.I.V. or AIDS publicly until 1985 and did not give a speech about the disease until 1987, when an estimated 40,000 people had already died of the disease and roughly 36,000 more had been given a diagnosis. Clinton immediately received backlash for her inaccuracy, from both the media and LGBT activists. She released a short apology a few hours after the gaffe.
The apology read, "While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease, I misspoke about their record on HIV and AIDS. For that, I'm sorry." The apology did little to silence criticism. Even her current opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, said, "I just don’t know what she was talking about," during an interview on CNN on Sunday. In an article titled, "On the fight against HIV and AIDS — and on the people who really started the conversation," Clinton apologized once again. "To be clear, the Reagans did not start a national conversation about HIV and AIDS. That distinction belongs to generations of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, along with straight allies, who started not just a conversation but a movement that continues to this day," the article reads, in part. Clinton used the rest of the article to talk about her record on HIV/AIDS during her tenure as first lady and called for more funding for research. She closed the article saying, "For the first time, an AIDS-free generation is in sight. As president, I promise you that I will not let up until we reach that goal. We will not leave anyone behind."

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