A quotation that former press secretary Larry Speakes fabricated closely resembles something President Reagan recalls telling Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, Reagan says.
Speakes' confession of fabricated quotes drew harsh condemnations from the White House when his book, "Speaking Out," was released early last month.But Reagan told foreign broadcasters Thursday that "actually, I have to say he was not too far wrong with some of the things that were said at our (his and Gorbachev's) earlier summit meetings."
In his book, Speakes said that during Reagan's first summit with Gorbachev in Geneva in November 1985, he manufactured a quote in the president's name. Speakes quoted Reagan as telling Gorbachev privately that "there is much that divides us, but I believe the world breathes easier because we are talking here together."
On Thursday, Reagan, when asked to assess the impact of the Speakes' revelations on the president's dealings with Gorbachev, recalled the Geneva meeting that led to one of the fabricated quotes:
"I remember that the general secretary and I, together in a room one-on-one, remarked about the uniqueness of our situation, and that very possibly, between us, war and peace for the world could be decided depending on what we did. And I remember also saying to him that I didn't think that we distrusted each other because of our armaments, that we armed because we distrusted each other."
Reagan had told the American Society of Newspaper Editors convention in mid-April that he had not been aware of the statements Speakes concocted.
During his April 13 appearance before the newspaper editors here, Reagan said "I can tell you right now that I have no affection for these kiss-and-tell books that are being written and I find it entirely fiction."
After referring to a previous address he had delivered, Reagan said: "That's one of the nice things about his job. You get to quote yourself shamelessly, and if you don't, Larry Speakes will."