GOP DEBATE: Candidates Discuss AIDS Relief for Africa
During last night's GOP presidential debate in Grand Rapids, MI, moderator Tim Russert posed this question to each candidate: "A debate -- discussion today at the United Nations. Thirteen million people in Africa have died of AIDS. Seven million more will die of AIDS in the next few years. Twenty million human beings dead of AIDS. Should the United States appropriate about $300 million out of its surplus in order to help fight AIDS in Africa?"
- Gary Bauer: "I would look at all the priorities facing this country and make a judgment about where we can use that surplus, first to help the American people, and then to help whoever else we can that it's appropriate to help."
- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): "I would do anything that I could in my power to stop this terrible affliction that is taking place in Africa today. They are wiping out generations of young Africans. They deserve the same opportunity we do. If I had confidence that money would be well spent, I would do it. But we have corrupt governments. We have organizations that don't treat the people. We have places where that medicine can't get to. So before I spent our taxpayers' money on that, I would have to make sure that it would go to the recipients and go to these poor people who are afflicted with this terrible disease. And very frankly, in a lot of parts of Africa today, I do not have that confidence."
- Gov. George W. Bush (R-TX): "I think this is a compassionate nation, and I think we ought to rally other compassionate nations around the world to provide the money to help the folks in Africa. ... And so I think, before we spend a dime, we want to make sure that the people we're trying to help receive the help necessary. But this is a compassionate land and we need to rally the people of compassion in the world to help when there's a terrible tragedy like this in Africa."
- Steve Forbes: "I think John and George are right. We have to be sure where the money is going. ... In terms of Africa itself, I think it is key that we not shackle our own pharmaceutical industry so that they can come up with cures to these and other hideous diseases. And in addition, I think we should encourage groups here in America and in Africa that are working to tackle this disease, to get the information out there on people's personal behavior. In these -- many of these countries, people aren't getting the word on how they can behave to help stop this epidemic because the government won't do it. Private groups, religious groups are willing to. We should urge them to do so."
- Alan Keyes: "[W]hether we should spend $300 million to cure an incurable disease is kind of an academic point, and you should realize that. Especially when the spread of that disease is rooted in ... a moral crisis [and] ... a pattern of behavior that spreads that death because of a kind of licentiousness. Not only in Africa, but right here in our own country and around the world. I think that this whole discussion is based on a premise that reveals the corruption of our thought. Money cannot solve every problem. Sometimes we need to look at the moral root of that problem and have the guts to deal with it."
- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): Vice President Gore did what was right today. This administration did what was right today. ... We need to do everything we can to help people with their health care problems. And as far as watching the money, we have a lot of nonprofit foundations and organizations in our country that would gladly go over there and help our brothers and sisters in Africa" (MSNBC transcript, 1/10).