US Republican presidential candidate, former Governor Mike Huckabee, has reneged on a promise to meet the mother of a teenager who died of AIDS, raising the ire of activists.
Jeanne White-Ginder, the mother of Ryan White – a teenager who captivated the US in the eighties with his struggle with AIDS – is still waiting to meet with Huckabee after he committed to meeting her and discussing his 1992 remarks that people living with HIV and AIDS should be “isolated.”
While a candidate for a US Senate seat in 1992, Huckabee made a statement about AIDS to The Associated Press saying that, “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.”
At the time of the statement it was already widely known that HIV could not be contracted thought casual contact.
When he recently embarked on his campaign for presidency, the statement was brought up again in the media. Jeanne White-Ginder, who is also a Board Member of The AIDS Institute, the Human Rights Campaign and The AIDS Institute, demanded to discuss the statement with him.
After receiving questions on the campaign trail about the issue from the press, Huckabee said on December 11, 2007, “I would be very willing to meet with them.”
Huckabee also contacted Jeanne White-Ginder two weeks after he was sent letters by HIV/AIDS organisations on the issue. During this phone call he also agreed to the meeting.
Since then attempts to contact the former Governor of Arkansas to set up the meeting have failed.
“Governor Huckabee gave Ryan White’s Mother his word that he would meet face-to-face but since that phone call the Huckabee campaign has refused to return any calls. Is Governor Huckabee a man of his word or is this just more typical political double-speak?” asked Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “It has been 29 days, Jeanne White-Ginder and the HIV/AIDS advocacy community continues to wait.”
Huckabee came third on Tuesday’s New Hampshire Primary, part of the process to decide the final Republican Presidential candidate.