Monthly Archives: March 2023


Last week, the New York Times published a front page story on a supposed attempt “to sabotage the re-election campaign of the president of the United States” by persuading Iran to hold the American hostages until after the 1980 election. According to Ben Barnes, the now 85-year old protégé of former Texas Governor John Connally, he and his mentor embarked on a tour of Middle East capitals in July 1980, asking regional leaders to pass this message on to Tehran: “Don’t release the hostages before the election. Mr. Reagan will win and give you a better deal.”

Barnes accused the Reagan campaign of promising that “a future Reagan administration would ship arms to Tehran through Israel in exchange for the hostages being held until after the election.”

The story is the latest chapter in a long effort – an effort that began just weeks after his election – to blemish the reputation of Ronald Reagan by claiming that his 1980 election victory was obtained by persuading Iran’s theocratic rulers to hold the hostages until after the election, thus depriving the incumbent Jimmy Carter of any credit for securing their release. According to this so-called “October Surprise” theory, Reagan’s campaign team traded the hostages’ freedom for his election victory.

The October Surprise would be outrageous if true. But it is not.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Foreign Policy, Politics