This post accuses me of perpetuating a myth about Ronald Reagan’s statement about AIDS. It basically accuses me of repeating Deroy Murdock’s error which was just mindblowing — he was off by two days on a statement that Reagan made about AIDS. Rather than the statement being part of the State of the Union address, it was made two days later on Feb. 6, 1986.
But when Reagan made that statement (or the pointless issue of whether or not he actually made the statement as a speech or just issued a written message) is really irrelevant, because he mentioned AIDS during a September 17, 1985 press conference. Here’s the relevant part from the transcript from the New York Times of the press conference,
Q. Mr. President, the nation’s best-known AIDS scientist says the time has come now to boost existing research into what he called a minor moon shot program to attack this AIDS epidemic that has struck fear into the nation’s health workers and even in schoolchildren. Would you support a massive Government research program against AIDS like the one that President Nixon launched against cancer?
A. I have been supporting it for more than four years now. It’s been one of the top priorities with us, and over the last four years and including what we have in the budget for ’86 it will amount to over a half a billion dollars that we have provided for research on AIDS, in addition to what I’m sure other medical groups are doing.
And we have $100 billion, or $100 million in the budget this year; it’ll be $126 million next year. So this is a top priority with us. Yes, there’s no question about the seriousness of this, and the need to find an answer.
Q. If I could follow up, sir. The scientist who talked about this, who does work for the Government is in the National Cancer Institute, he was referring to your program and the increase that you propose as being not nearly enough at this stage to go forward and really attack the problem.
A. I think with our budgetary restraints and all it seems to me that $126 million in a single year for research has got to be something of a vital contribution.
Transcript of Ronald Reagan Press Conference. New York Times, September 18, 1985.