Former Baptist minister and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been on the defensive since it was revealed last week that he had, while governor of Arkansas, called for the "isolation" of AIDS patients from the general population. This weekend, on Fox News Sunday, Huckabee defended those remarks, here via Mark Silva writing for The Swamp:
Huckabee acknowledged the prevailing scientific view then, and since, that the virus that causes AIDS is not spread through casual contact, but said that was not certain.
"I still believe this today," Huckabee said Sunday, that "we were acting more out of political correctness" in responding to the AIDS crisis. "I don't run from it, I don't recant it," he said of his position in 1992. Yet he said he would state his view differently in retrospect.
In response, today the Human Rights Campaign and the AIDS Institute sent a letter to Huckabee asking him to meet with Jeanne White-Ginder, the mother of the late Ryan White, the youngster who contracted AIDS through a transfusion and who lent his name to the cause of destigmatizing the disease. (Ryan White died in 1990.) According to the AP's Liz Sidoti and Mike Glover, Huckabee has agreed in principle to meed with White-Ginder, who called Huckabee's comments "completely beyond comprehension."
In response, Huckabee told reporters in Council Bluffs, Iowa: "I certainly never would want to say anything that would be hurtful to them or anyone else. I would have great regret and anxiety if I thought my comments were hurtful or in any way added to the already incredible pain that families have felt regardless of how they contracted AIDS."
Nothing in the report, though, shows any backing off of his position on "isolating" HIV/AIDS patients.
--Adele M. Stan