Just when he thought the media lovefest would never end–what with the deeply troubling open-borders and soft-on-crime charges of his critics failing to stick–GOP front-runner Mike Huckabee gets a Saturday surprise from the Associated Press, which dug up an old questionnaire probing his views on AIDS funding and homosexuality:
Mike Huckabee once advocated isolating AIDS patients from the general public, opposed increased federal funding in the search for a cure and said homosexuality could “pose a dangerous public health risk.”
As a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in 1992, Huckabee answered 229 questions submitted to him by The Associated Press. Besides a quarantine, Huckabee suggested that Hollywood celebrities fund AIDS research from their own pockets, rather than federal health agencies.
“If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague,” Huckabee 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.”
He also suggests that crusading celebrities pitch in more money instead of the federal government. He has since changed his mind and now supports increased public AIDS funding:
When asked about AIDS research in 1992, Huckabee complained that AIDS research received an unfair share of federal dollars when compared to cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
“In light of the extraordinary funds already being given for AIDS research, it does not seem that additional federal spending can be justified,” Huckabee wrote. “An alternative would be to request that multimillionaire celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor (,) Madonna and others who are pushing for more AIDS funding be encouraged to give out of their own personal treasuries increased amounts for AIDS research.”
…When Huckabee wrote his answers in 1992, it was common knowledge that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact. In late 1991, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 195,718 AIDS patients in the country and that 126,159 people had died from the syndrome. The nation had an increased awareness of AIDS at the time because pro basketball star Magic Johnson had recently disclosed he carried the virus responsible for it. Johnson retired but returned to the NBA briefly during the 1994-95 season.
Since becoming a presidential candidate this year, Huckabee has supported increased federal funding for AIDS research through the National Institutes of Health. “My administration will be the first to have an overarching strategy for dealing with HIV and AIDS here in the United States, with a partnership between the public and private sectors that will provide necessary financing and a realistic path toward our goals,” Huckabee said in a statement posted on his campaign Web site last month.
Also in the wide-ranging AP questionnaire in 1992, Huckabee said, “I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk.”
It would be helpful for the AP to release the full survey and the full questions, which it probably won’t do. Jonathan Adler rightly notes:
This was not the early 1980s, when the threat posed by the HIV virus was poorly understood. Rather it was 1992, long after it was understood that AIDS could not be transmitted through casual contact. So either Huckabee was woefully ignorant about the nature of AIDS, or he supported a quarantine despite the lack of a threat of communicability. Neither interpretation speaks well of him.
We know how the story will play among the punditocracy in Washington. How will it play in Iowa?
Are these notable flip-flops the product of naked pandering to the base, as seemed to be the case in adopting Krikorian’s immigration plan after having described opposition to Bush’s amnesty bill as “nativist” in 2006, or is Huck just a soft mark for ideologues trying to bend him to their side? Whatever the answer is, it’s extremely worrisome.