Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. "Presidential Hopeful: Ronald Reagan"

Released 2008


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Taped on January 14, 1980The wish was father to the thought: instead of asking Reagan conventionally worded questions about his candidacy, as he had done with Messrs. Dole, Anderson, and Crane, Buckley addressed his guest (without advance warning) as if the inauguration had already taken place: "I should like to begin by asking President Reagan: What would you do if, say, one afternoon you were advised that a race riot had broken out in Detroit?" Reagan: "Well, I would be inclined to say that that was a problem for the local authorities in Detroit, unless those local authorities were unable to control the situation." A discussion full of substance--on topics ranging from Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia to the way government bonds should be issued to the still-ongoing energy crisis to the still-high unemployment--but also a delicious dress rehearsal: Buckley: "Mr. President, the CIA has complained to you that it cannot discharge some of the recent directives that the National Security Council has given it as a result of its having been hamstrung by a number of provisions insisted on by Senator Church three or four years ago. How would you handle that dilemma?" Reagan: "Why, I'm surprised that they're complaining, because one of the first things I did when I took office was ask Congress to repeal those restrictions that were put on by Senator Church." Summary by Firing Line staff.moreless

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