Nov. 19, 1986:
In a nationally televised news conference, President Reagan once again defends his dealings with Iran, saying that U.S. arms shipments to Tehran were designed to encourage moderates in that country and not, as many have suggested, to help free hostages who were being held in Lebanon by Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists.
Polls showed that most Americans do not believe Reagan's rationale for what he did, which Senate Democratic leader Robert Byrd said was nothing more than "arms for hostages." Republicans, looking to protect the president, focused their ire on White House chief of staff Donald Regan and national security adviser John Poindexter.
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