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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 21, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 43
Clinton worried about LGBT backlash, emails show
Section One
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Clinton worried about LGBT backlash, emails show

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Emails released by WikiLeaks show that Hillary Clinton's campaign team knew she'd made a mistake praising Nancy Reagan for starting what she called 'a national conversation' about AIDS, and they were worried her gaffe would result in a backlash against her among LGBT voters. Clinton made the remark after Reagan died in March.

The Reagans were notorious for ignoring the AIDS crisis as it developed during Ronald Reagan's two terms in office, and LGBT activists criticized Clinton for rewriting the historical record.

'While I respect her advocacy on issues like stem cell and Parkinson's research, Nancy Reagan was, sadly, no hero in the fight against HIV/AIDS,' Human Rights Campaign (HRC) CEO Chad Griffin tweeted immediately after Clinton's statement.

HRC had already endorsed Clinton, and Griffin's remarks were relatively mild. Not all responses from LGBT activists were as friendly.

'It's almost tempting to interpret this as withering, devastating sarcasm,' Gawker wrote. 'The Reagans 'started a national conversation about AIDS' in the same sense that George W. Bush 'started a national conversation about Iraq.'

'Marie Antoinette did some incredible LOW KEY ADVOCACY for the French underclass,' Dan Fishback, a writer and performer, wrote on Twitter.

Both Clinton and her Democratic primary rival Bernie Sanders were vying for LGBT votes, and the gaffe might have hurt Clinton if she had failed to respond to community outrage.

Clinton immediately tweeted an apology after her initial remarks were published, but her aides feared that would not be enough to satisfy the LGBT community.

'While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease, I misspoke about their record on HIV and AIDS,' Clinton said in her initial tweet. 'For that, I'm sorry.'

Clinton aides worried that a mere 'misspoke' was insufficient to convey the magnitude of Clinton's error.

'I don't want this to fester,' wrote Clinton's campaign's LGBT outreach director, Dominic Lowell.

Her campaign team began drafting a statement but fumbled over the correct wording. An initial draft of it began by saying 'I made a mistake.'

The line was then changed to a defensive 'I said something inaccurate,' but an even later version had Clinton say 'I made a mistake, plain and simple.'

The emails relating to this incident were among thousands hacked from the accounts of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

US intelligence officials have blamed the Russian government for a series of breaches intended to influence the presidential election. The Russians deny involvement.

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