Ever since the 1972 election when Henry Kissinger announced that "peace is at hand" during a press conference on October 26, 1972, with reference to the Vietnam War, thus boosting Nixon's re-election, The October Surprise has been synonymous with election campaigns. And in 1980 the October Surprise came in the form of a rumored pending release of the 50 American hostages held in Iran the better part of a year. Late in the day on October 21, the first bits of news trickled in that Iran was considering a release. As the day of the 22nd wore on so did the optimism on one hand, and the caution on the other. Speculation was rife, and has been for years, that the announcement was geared to give the Carter campaign a boost, while the delay until after the election was geared to give the Reagan campaign a boost. Denials were everywhere, even though former Iranian President Bani-Sadr charged in his book "My Turn To Speak" that the Reagan campaign was successful in preventing an early release of the hostages and it had been openly discussed with members of the Iranian Parliament to prevent the hostage release until after the election in order to insure a Reagan victory.
Still, the timing was interesting, particularly as Ronald Reagan was touting a "secret plan" to release the hostages. Jimmy Carter, while campaigning in Texas, brought up that point to a crowd in Waco.
Jimmy Carter: “Do you remember when Richard Nixon said, just before the election in 1968 that he had a secret plan to win the war in Vietnam? You all remember that? Now how many of you, how many of you Texans with sound judgment, familiar with history, believe that Ronald Reagan has a secret plan to get the hostages back?”
Reagan downplayed the whole thing while having his running mate George Bush, act as attack dog.
Here is a sampling of news surrounding the event from 8:00 am the morning of the 22nd to 11:00 pm, going from optimism to downplay as the day wore on.
Those October surprises . . .