Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Will Huckabee Honor His Word?

Advocacy Groups, Jeanne White-Ginder Still Waiting to Meet with Gov. Huckabee, but after two letters by the Human Rights Campaign and The AIDS Institute, the Huckabee campaign has not responded

WASHINGTON – One week after requesting to meet with Republican presidential candidate Governor Mike Huckabee, Jeanne White-Ginder, the mother of Ryan White, the Human Rights Campaign or The AIDS Institute, still have not heard from Gov. Huckabee or his campaign. The meeting was called in response to Gov. Huckabee’s 1992 remarks, that he refused to repudiate, when he said people living with HIV and AIDS should have been “isolated” even after it was determined the virus was not spread through casual contact. The morning after HRC and The AIDS Institute sent a letter to the Huckabee campaign requesting a meeting, the Governor said, “I would be very willing to meet with them.”

On Saturday, a field representative working for the Human Rights Campaign approached Huckabee during a campaign stop at the Berlin New Hampshire Technical College, located in Berlin, NH. The staffer asked, “I know that you said you are willing to meet with Ryan White's mother, when will you be meeting with her?” Huckabee answered, “Well I don't know how to get in touch with her.” The staffer offered to provide contact information and Huckabee called over Christopher Herr, the campaign’s New Hampshire field manager. She provided the information to Mr. Herr while Huckabee moved on.

“Seven days after we asked Governor Huckabee to meet with Jeanne White-Ginder, she is still waiting to hear from him or anyone on his campaign,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “As we’ve said, this is not an issue of ‘political correctness.’ Rather, this is an issue of valuing science-based evidence over unfounded fear or prejudice. If Gov. Huckabee is a man of his word, then he’ll stop stalling and stand by his pledge and immediately reach out to Jeanne.”

“We are very disappointed that Governor Huckabee has not taken steps to meet with Jeanne White-Ginder after indicating he was willing to do so,” said Gene Copello, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. “HRC and The AIDS Institute sent two letters to Governor Huckabee with the necessary information about how we could facilitate a meeting with Ms. White-Ginder, who is a board member of The AIDS Institute. It is important to Ms. White-Ginder, whose young son, Ryan White, suffered undue discrimination because of prejudice and fear, for this meeting to occur. Since the 1980s we have had good scientific evidence about how AIDS is transmitted and how it is not. Even in the face of such evidence, discrimination against women, men, and children living with HIV/AIDS continues today. Calls for isolation and quarantine not only fly in the face of scientific evidence, they also reinforce prejudice and fear. This is our third request to meet with Governor Huckabee and we will continue to advocate strongly for this meeting until it happens.”

“Over 1.2 million people in our country are living with HIV/AIDS. It’s hard to imagine that a serious Presidential candidate would stand by a statement to ‘isolate’ our fellow Americans, and then ignore offers from Ryan White’s mother, Jeanne White-Ginder, to meet so she can educate Governor Huckabee about the devastating impact of this disease,” said Rebecca Haag, Executive Director of AIDS Action in Washington, D.C. “This nation needs a results-oriented national strategy to end this tragedy. Blaming the victim is not constructive; strong political leadership is needed. The Governor does not appear to be up to the task.”

As a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in 1992, Huckabee answered 229 questions submitted to him by The Associated Press. The Senate candidate wrote: “It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.”

“When Huckabee wrote his answers in 1992, it was common knowledge that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact,” the Associated Press reported, December 8, 2007. In a FOX News interview on Sunday, December 9, Huckabee stood by his remarks. Watch the interview here.


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