Published: 1986
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
For 13 months, to the disappointment of his fellow warriors of the right, White House communications director Patrick J. Buchanan, seen in his office on March 11, 1986, maintained an uncharacteristically low profile. But suddenly, last week, Buchanan was thrust into a lead role in the high-stakes, all-out fight for $100 million in aid to the Contra Rebels in Nicaragua. (UPI Photo/Ron Bennett/Files)

Dennis Daily: During much of 1986, President Reagan enjoyed one of the highest approval ratings of any American president, but as UPI Radio White House correspondent, Bill Small reports, one day late in the year that all began to change.

Bill Small: On November 13th, Ronald Reagan made a statement that would change the way America looked at this presidency.

Ronald Regan: I authorize the transfer of small amounts of defensive weapons and spare parts for defensive systems to Iran.

Bill Small: Mr. Reagan said he did it to woo what he called moderates in the Iranian government as well as to help free American hostages in Lebanon, but controversy turned into scandal just 12 days later.

Ronald Reagan: I was not fully informed on the nature of when the activities undertaken in connection with this initiative. This action raises serious questions of propriety.

Bill Small: The Attorney General said that it appeared that part of the proceeds from arm sold to Iran were skimmed off and sent to Nicaraguan countries. National Security Advisor, John Poindexter, resigned. His deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, was fired. As the scandal spread, Attorney General, Meese, asked the courts for an independent counsel. Congress decided that special select committees in the House and Senate would conduct their own investigations. Mr. Reagan's approval rating dropped 20 points and an opinion poll showed nearly half of those responding believed that Mr. Reagan was lying. I am Bill Small at the White House.

Dennis Daily: North and Poindexter continued to take the Fifth Amendment, though Vice President, Bush, in an Iowa speech okayed by the White House, pushed for vote to open up as a Christmas present to the nation.

George Bush: The country cannot wait any longer. Both Admiral Poindexter and Colonel North should now step forward and tell us the whole truth.

Dennis Daily: The situation was further complicated by the arrest of two US citizens in Nicaragua. One caught with a plane full of supplies bound for the Contras was shot down and the second arrested while on an admitted mission for a spy for higher company. The downed flier, Eugene Hasenfus was sentenced first to 30 years then given a pardon. The other, the brother of an Ohio congressman, is still being held.