Hillary Clinton: The Reagans, particularly Nancy, helped start "a national conversation" about HIV and AIDS. https://t.co/7sZp8X53fb— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 11, 2016
I can't write too much about this because it is, to be honest, physically painful that someone I have admired and championed for over 20 years could make this statement in public.
“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s.
“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. And that too is something that I really appreciate with her very effective low-key advocacy, but it penetrated the public conscience and people began to say, ‘Hey, we have to do something about this, too.'
The Reagans infamously ignored the AIDS epidemic as it swept the country in the United States during the 1980s. It wasn't until May 1987 when President Reagan even said the word "AIDS" in public. By that point, tens of thousands of gay men had died due to the disease.
I can't wrap my head around the idea that a woman as smart as Hillary Clinton could say that the Reagans "started a national conversation" about AIDS and HIV.
She knew she was going to be making public statements today. No one in her position goes out on TV without vetting what she's going to say with her team. Her campaign manager is an openly gay man. She has gay advisers. WHO would have seen this comment prepped for her and not raised a huge red flag?
I can't express how much this pains me.
I saw she later issued her regrets saying she "misspoke." While I can't defend the comment itself, I will say she responded quickly and unequivocally. There was no hedging, it was a straight up apology.
Perhaps as a former First Lady herself she felt the need to be overly gracious and got a bit past herself.
It doesn't fix the massive misstatement. I see how the issue of mistrust happens now. But at the very least, she did apologize.
Hillary Clinton’s statement on her comments about the Reagans' record on HIV and AIDS: pic.twitter.com/RtIs0zpJfk— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 11, 2016
Along the way, major figures in the LGBT community chimed in:
Sorry Hillary,You mean well but nothing could be further from the truth than Nancy Reagan (RIP) started a national conversation on AIDS— David Mixner (@DavidMixner) March 11, 2016
Dear @ChelseaClinton: Please ask your mom to join you for a screening of How To @SurviveAPlague tonight. #TheReagansLetUsDie— Peter Staley (@peterstaley) March 11, 2016
While I respect her advocacy on issues like stem cell & Parkinson's research, Nancy Reagan was, sadly, no hero in the fight against HIV/AIDS— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) March 11, 2016