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Election 2000 Presidential Candidate Report

August 1999

A note from TheBody.com: The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Contact: media@aidsaction.org or call: 202-530-8030


The next president will lead America into the third decade of the AIDS epidemic, a domestic crisis that is increasingly defined by rising HIV infections, inadequate access to life-saving drugs and care as well as a global pandemic that threatens to bring down entire nations.

It is also an epidemic hampered by complacency among at risk populations and national leaders who haven't responded to the changing needs of people affected by HIV/AIDS. Indeed, as a whole, the most striking thing the presidential candidates have said or done about HIV and AIDS is how little many of them have said or done.

Only two candidates, Senator Orrin Hatch and Vice President Al Gore, have been proactive on AIDS issues while others, including Senator John McCain and former Senator Bill Bradley, have records of supporting legislation that would sustain a strong investment in the fight against the epidemic.

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The leading Republican candidate, George W. Bush, has a shallow record on AIDS with almost no public comment on the epidemic. He has vocally supported abstinence-only sex education, a position that allows for no margin of error among young people who are at risk of making the mistake of unsafe sex.

Other Republican candidates for president have little public comment on AIDS or records that are at odds with the mainstream public health community. For example, former commentator Pat Buchanan has said that "(t)eenage kids having normal sexual intercourse are not spreading AIDS. The problem with AIDS is contaminated needles and promiscuous homosexuality" despite the fact that HIV is transmitted through heterosexual intercourse and heterosexual sex is a leading cause of infection worldwide.

On the Democratic side, both Vice President Gore and former Senator Bill Bradley have records of support for investing in the fight against HIV and AIDS and the public policy positions that support those investments. In the rare instance where Gore's and Bradley's Senate voting records diverged, Gore's position was in line with public health experts and AIDS advocates.

Vice President Gore recently told AIDS Action that he supports "increased funding to the CDC to address the prevention needs of all groups at risk for HIV, including young people." This is a positive departure from the Clinton Administration's four years of flat prevention funding.

This report provides the first snapshot of the candidates' public comments and records on the AIDS epidemic.


Democrats

Bill Bradley

An original cosponsor of the Ryan White Care Act in 1990 and 1995, the centerpiece of the federal government's response to the epidemic, Sen. Bradley voted for the passage of both the original Act and its reauthorization.

Sen. Bradley cosponsored and voted for the AIDS Research and Information Act, which established an early federal response to the epidemic in 1987.

He cosponsored and voted for the historic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which extended civil rights protections to people with disabilities including HIV.

Sen. Bradley cosponsored a 1990 Kennedy amendment that expedited the drug approval process with respect to AIDS drug development.

He voted for an amendment offered by Senator Jesse Helms to the FY '90 Labor, Health and Human Service appropriations bill that made spousal notification a prerequisite for receiving federal AIDS education funds.

Sen. Bradley voted for a 1991 Helms amendment to the Treasury and Postal Service appropriation bill that imposed a $10,000 fine and a prison term of not less than 10 years on health care workers who refuse to disclose their HIV status to their patients.

In 1993, Sen. Bradley voted against an amendment prohibiting the permanent immigration of individuals living with HIV included in the NIH Revitalization Act.

Sen. Bradley voted in support of a 1993 McCain amendment that would have transferred funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to fund AIDS programs.

In 1995, Sen. Bradley voted against legislative riders that would have flat funded the Ryan White Care Act.

During Senate consideration of the Defense Department Authorization Act, Sen. Bradley voted no on a 1995 legislative rider that would have mandated the discharge of HIV positive service members.


Al Gore

As a Senator, Gore was an original cosponsor of and voted for the 1990 Ryan White Care Act.

Sen. Gore cosponsored and voted for the AIDS Research and Information Act.

Sen. Gore cosponsored and voted for the historic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Sen. Gore was one of only four senators to vote against an amendment offered by Senator Jesse Helms, to the FY '90 Labor, Health and Human Service appropriations bill that made spousal notification a prerequisite for receiving federal AIDS education funds.

In 1991, the senator voted against an Helms amendment to the Treasury and Postal Service appropriations bill that imposed a $10,000 fine and a prison term of not less than 10 years on health care workers who refuse to disclose their HIV status to their patients.

Throughout his Senate career, Gore consistently supported increased funding for federal HIV/AIDS programs.

As Vice President, Gore was the first national figure to endorse the concept of extending Medicaid coverage to all people living with HIV, not just those who have full-blown AIDS. While the Administration recently took the first step toward enacting this proposal through a demonstration project in the FY2000 budget, that was nearly two years after the Vice President's 1997 endorsement.

Vice President Gore helped secure an Administration proposal to double global AIDS funding to help support prevention, treatment and care for the global AIDS pandemic. This proposal was the most ambitious global AIDS plan in U.S. government history.

The Vice President has been criticized for the Administration's muddled stance on the right of foreign countries to develop generic versions of AIDS drugs.

The Vice President says he supports the rights of local communities to administer needle exchange programs and supports the science that says they are effective in reducing HIV infections without increasing drug use. Nonetheless, the Clinton/Gore Administration has refused to release federal funds to support these programs.

The Vice President and the Administration in 1998 helped secure a $156 million investment to help fight HIV/AIDS in communities of color.


Republicans

Lamar Alexander

When asked if he would support increased, decreased or maintained funding in the 1996 campaign, Alexander said he supported maintained levels of AIDS research funding.

The New York Times' Frank Rich recently reported on Alexander's leadership of the National Commission on Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, which opposes "large, umbrella charities" and philanthropies with broad program missions that sometimes collaborate with government. Rich said: "if it weren't for partnerships between government and private philanthropy, Head Start, the Salk polio vaccine and AIDS research would all have advanced on slower tracks (if they advanced at all)."

During the 1996 campaign, Alexander was asked what he would do as president about AIDS and AIDS education. He said he supported research for "a cure" but that AIDS prevention and whether it should be taught in schools is a local matter.


Gary Bauer

In a 1998 radio program, Bauer said, "drug needle giveaways are bad policy. And it's time that Congress put an end to this debate once and for all."

About needle exchange programs, Bauer also said, "the government will continue to encourage local communities to fund their own versions of these drug needle giveaways. And that's a big mistake. Instead, our focus should be on helping addicts. They need treatment, not needles."

Also in 1998, Bauer said, "medicine is a great help, but it is no substitute for individual moral responsibility. The fact of the matter is that most AIDS cases are the result of dangerous and morally questionable behavior. If that behavior isn't changed, then the medicine really won't help very much in the long run."


Pat Buchanan

There are several quotes most commonly attributed to Buchanan about the AIDS epidemic:

"Promiscuous homosexuality is spreading this disease. In my judgment, sex between two men is not natural sex."

"The problem is not teenage boys and girls. Teenage kids having normal sexual intercourse are not spreading AIDS. The problem with AIDS is contaminated needles and promiscuous homosexuality."

According to Buchanan, AIDS is "nature . . . exacting an awful retribution"


George W. Bush

Governor Bush's Department of Health on January 1, 1999 implemented a statewide names collection system for all people with HIV.

The Washington Times reported in July, 1999 that Governor Bush favors abstinence-only education arguing that the teaching abstinence and safer sex "sends a contradictory message that tends to undermine the message of abstinence."

Governor Bush's current Commissioner of Health William R. Archer, "a self-proclaimed celibate, is such an advocate of abstinence as the best way of controlling AIDS, teen pregnancy, and abortion that he told a clinic worker he regretted his own sexual indulgence in sex six years earlier." (Wills, New York Times, 8/16/92)


Elizabeth Dole

The Washington Post ran a profile of Mrs. Dole in the spring, 1999 reporting on her leadership at the American Red Cross:

"... In 1995, for example, some Red Cross chapter officials accused Dole of caving under pressure from conservative groups her husband was courting for support in his GOP presidential campaign ... The controversy was over AIDS teaching materials, and whether they should be encouraging abstinence as part of their prevention message. While complaints had been voiced for years, Dole quickly moved the sensitive issue from her staff to the Board of Governors, which ordered that the materials be toned down."


Steve Forbes

Forbes launched a 1997 radio ad campaign in opposition to a Washington, D.C. medical marijuana initiative that would allow people suffering from the pain of diseases like AIDS and cancer calling initiative organizers "twisted drug predators."


Orrin Hatch

Sen. Hatch was an original cosponsor of and voted for the landmark Ryan White Care Act and its reauthorization.

He cosponsored and voted for the historic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which extended civil rights protections to people with disabilities, including HIV.

The senator cosponsored the Health Omnibus Extension in 1988, which created new HIV/AIDS research programs within the Public Health Service.

Sen. Hatch cosponsored and voted for the AIDS Research and Information Act.

Sen. Hatch cosponsored the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act in the 101st Congress, which was designed to help children affected by HIV/AIDS.

Sen. Hatch also cosponsored a Kennedy amendment that expedited the drug approval process with respect to AIDS drug development.

He voted in favor of a 1991 Helms amendment to the Treasury and Postal Service appropriation bill that imposed a $10,000 fine and a prison term of not less than 10 years on health care workers who refuse to disclose their HIV status to their patients.

The senator voted in favor of a permanent ban on HIV positive immigrants included in the NIH Revitalization Act in 1993.

Senator Hatch voted for a 1993 McCain amendment that would have transferred funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to fund AIDS programs.

More recently, Sen. Hatch cosponsored and voted for the Work Incentives Improvement Act in June. The Act would allow people with disabilities to return to work without losing their Medicaid and Medicare eligibility.

Senator Hatch has introduced legislation, S. 899, that permanently bans all federal funds from being expended, directly or indirectly, to operate a needle exchange program.


John McCain

A cosponsor of the Ryan White Care Act of 1990 and 1995, Sen. John McCain voted for the Act and its reauthorization.

Sen. McCain authored an amendment to the 1990 Ryan White Care Act that ensured that Native Americans receive services provided by the legislation.

Sen. McCain cosponsored the Americans with Disabilities Act and voted for its passage.

Sen. McCain cosponsored the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act in the 101st Congress, which was designed to help children affected by HIV/AIDS.

He voted for an amendment offered by Senator Jesse Helms, to the FY '90 Labor, Health and Human Service appropriations bill that made spousal notification a prerequisite for receiving federal AIDS education funds.

He voted in favor of a 1991 Helms amendment to the Treasury and Postal Service appropriation bill that imposed a $10,000 fine and a prison term of not less than 10 years on health care workers who refuse to disclose their HIV status to their patients.

Sen. McCain voted in favor of a permanent ban on HIV positive immigrants included in the NIH Revitalization Act in 1993.

Sen. McCain authored an amendment that would have transferred funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to fund AIDS programs.

Sen. McCain cosponsored a bill in the 105th Congress that would permanently prohibit the use of federal funds for needle exchange programs.

While not a cosponsor of the Work Incentives Improvement Act, he voted for its passage in June of 1999.


Dan Quayle

While in the Senate, Dan Quayle cosponsored and voted for the AIDS Research and Information Act.

Sen. Quayle cosponsored the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act in the 101st Congress, which was designed to help children affected by HIV/AIDS.

In the late 1980s as the first AIDS drug AZT was made available, then Vice-President Quayle went to an AIDS clinic and asked, "Are they taking DDT?"

The Bush/Quayle Administration strongly advocated for passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and signed it into law.

A note from TheBody.com: The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!




This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.
 
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