Toni Preckwinkle apologizes for Ronald Reagan 'special place in hell' comment

August 22, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Preckwinkle is sorry about how she said it, but is still critical of the anti-drug policies that Reagan instituted during the 1980s.

"I said I regretted my inflammatory remarks, and I also said that I'm not going to stop talking about this issue," Preckwinkle said Wednesday.

The Cook County president was apologetic about her remark Tuesday that the late president Ronald Reagan deserves a "special place in hell" for stepping up the nation's War on Drugs over 30 years ago.

But Preckwinkle did not back off her underlying belief.

"We're spending an incredible amount of money on detaining and incarcerating people, and we ought to be investing in treatment," said Preckwinkle.

Democrat Preckwinkle wants the possession of small amounts of marijuana decriminalized to relieve overcrowding in the county court system and jail.

But condemning Ronald Reagan -- the Republican icon born and raised in Illinois -- outraged the state GOP chairman, who wrote that Democrats "will stop at nothing -- including trashing Ronald Reagan -- on their quest to divide this country."

"I was upset to hear the remark, but at the same time, too, I knew that it was a gaffe and that President Preckwinkle would do the right thing in apologizing," said Republican Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman.

During her two and half years in office, the Cook County Board president has a reputation for carefully measuring her public comments.

Preckwinkle has been mentioned in many Democratic party circles as a possible primary challenger to Governor Pat Quinn in 2014.

"I've said for some time that I like sleeping in my own bed and I intend to run for re-election. That's still my position," Preckwinkle said.

But even Quinn supporter, like Representative Mary Flowers, recognize the incumbent's political wounds and are intrigued by the idea of Preckwinkle in the governor's mansion.

"I think it's way past time for an African-American female to be governor, president, mayor or anything else," said Flowers.

"My plan is to run for re-election. That is what I've said since I got elected," said Preckwinkle.

Besides announcing she will run for re-election in 2014, Preckwinkle also said the state's fiscal problems were inherited by Governor Quinn and he should not be blamed for them.

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