Carter Urges Support for Reagan in Hostage Crisis
Former President Jimmy Carter, who had been severely criticized by candidate Ronald Reagan during the Iranian hostage crisis, today broke a self-imposed silence on the Lebanon hostages and urged Americans to “give President Reagan our full support and encouragement.”
“Rosalynn and I pray that all those being held hostage will soon be free and reunited with their families,” Carter said in a statement released from his Atlanta office. “I know from personal experience how difficult it is to deal with the kidnaping and prolonged holding of innocent Americans.”
Carter, the only other President to deal with a prolonged hostage crisis in the Middle East, earlier had refused to comment on the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 last Friday. Forty Americans from the jet are being held hostage in Lebanon by Shia Muslims.
The former President was criticized by Reagan during the 1980 presidential campaign for the prolonged “national disgrace and humiliation” of the holding of 52 Americans captive in Iran. The hostages were freed on the day of Reagan’s first inaugural.
Deputy Press Secretary Larry Speakes told reporters in Washington that Reagan had not consulted with Carter in the current crisis. Asked why not, he said there were some members of the National Security Council who had served continuously in both the Carter and Reagan administrations and had the background and experience of handling the previous crisis.
Carter referred to the Iranian hostage crisis, saying: “As President, my greatest need during the Iranian hostage crisis was the sustained support of the American people. Now, although we may have many different opinions concerning what action should be taken, it is important that all of us give President Reagan our full support and encouragement.”