by Mark Silva and updated
There's at least one person looking for some elaboration in Mike Huckabee's stance on the isolation of AIDS patients: The mother of Ryan White.
Jeanne White-Ginder, mother of the Indiana teenager who lost his battle with AIDS in a case that gained the nation's attention in the late 1980s, has told the Associated Press that the only recently reported comments of Huckabee in 1992 that AIDS patients should be isolated are "so alarming to me." Huckabee, who was running for Senate in Arkansas then and is seeking the Republican Party's nomination for president now, said within the past few days that he stands by the statement -- as well as his belief that homosexuality is a "sin.''
In a telephone interview Monday with The Associated Press from her home in Leesburg, Fla., White's mother said: "It's very important to me that we don't live in the darkness" -- citing a time when people thought AIDS was transmitted through casual contact, such as by "kissing, tears, sweat and saliva." She said: "We have to treat this disease like a disease, and like Ryan always said, not like a dirty word.''
“I would be very willing to meet with them,” the former Arkansas governor said today while campaigning in Iowa. “I would tell them we’ve come a long way in research, in treatment.”
White was 13 when he was diagnosed with AIDS in December 1984, having contracted the disease from a blood-clotting agent treating his hemophilia. He was barred from school, in fear that the disease could be spread casually. He died in 1990 at the age of 18.
Huckabee, later elected governor of Arkansas, made his comments about isolation and homosexuality in a Senate campaign questionnaire for the AP in 1992. White-Ginder, who has declined to say what political party she belongs to, calls his comments "completely beyond comprehension,'' the AP is reporting today.
"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," Huckabee replied in the campaign questionnaire in 1992.
Asked about those comments over the weekend, the candidate said he stands by them but suggests they also may be misinterpreted. On Fox News Sunday, he denied that he was calling for a quarantine for the AIDS population, but didn't explain how isolation might be achieved. "I didn't say we should quarantine," he said. The idea was not to "lock people up."
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.