Clinton apologizes for praising Reagans' response to HIV
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Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSamantha Power's Herculean task: Turning a screw with a rubber screwdriver Beau Biden Foundation to deny lobbyist donations, make major donors public Whoopi Goldberg wears 'my vice president' shirt day after inauguration MORE is apologizing for praising Nancy Reagan's response to the HIV/AIDS crisis after facing a torrent of criticism from her supporters.

“While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s research, I misspoke about their record on HIV and AIDS,” Clinton said in a statement tweeted Friday.

“For that, I’m sorry.”

The candidate quickly walked back comments from an interview earlier Friday with MSNBC, when she said she “really appreciated” the Reagans' work on HIV/AIDS.


"Because of both President and Mrs. Reagan — in particular Mrs. Reagan — we started a national conversation. When before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it,” Clinton told MSNBC.

“That too is something I really appreciate with her very effective, low-key advocacy. It penetrated the public conscience. People began to say, ‘Hey, we have to do something about this too.’ ”

Clinton's interview took place just before the former first lady' funeral. Nancy Reagan died earlier this week, aged 94, of congestive heart failure.

Her comments about the Reagans, though, sparked an immediate backlash on social media. Civil rights advocates quickly condemned the remarks, saying that Ronald and Nancy Reagan had done the opposite of trying to address HIV. 

Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, tweeted “Nancy Reagan was, sadly, no hero in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”

Nancy Reagan, in particular, has been criticized for ignoring pleas for help from her friend, actor Rock Hudson, just weeks before he died of AIDS.

In her apology, Clinton did not specifically criticize former President Reagan or his wife on their HIV response.

Some critics charge that the Reagans ignored early warnings of the epidemic because of homophobia.

Members of Reagan’s administration have since said that Reagan declined to discuss the issue for his first several years in office.

Reagan first addressed AIDS in 1987, according to reports, well into his second term and six years after the Centers for Disease Control brought attention to the issue.

This story was updated at 6:09 p.m.