Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on Sunday denied on national television that he had called for quarantine of people infected with HIV when he was running for Senate in 1992, even though he is on record saying, “we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.”
“Mike Huckabee is denying his own dangerous demagoguery, but his words are plain for everyone to see,” said PFAW political director Mary Jean Collins. “It’s astonishing how often people who claim to represent truth have so much trouble with the concept.”
Huckabee’s denial came several days after a PFAW report on Huckabee’s record highlighted his 1992 statement, which came long after scientists had established that the virus was not spread by casual contact:
“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,” he said. “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.
“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.”
The PFAW report was published last Wednesday and the AIDS quote was discussed on PFAW’s blog, rightwingwatch.org, on Thursday; on Saturday the Associated Press covered Huckabee’s first attempt to spin the 1992 statement. That spin went out of control on Fox News Sunday, when Huckabee flatly told Chris Wallace, “I didn’t say that we should quarantine.” Huckabee did not explain the difference between calling for quarantine and saying “we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of the plague.”
In his Saturday statement and Sunday press appearance, Huckabee claimed that he had been standing for “good science” and against “political correctness,” a claim that was too much even for Fox’s Wallace to accept. Said Wallace, “…this wasn’t political correctness. The Centers for Disease Control back in ‘85, seven years before you made your statement, said that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact.”
PFAW’s report cited the 1992 quote as one of numerous examples of Huckabee’s record that undercut his folksy “nice guy” image but help explain why he is so popular among Religious Right activists. See the Huckabee archive on PFAW’s Right Wing Watch blog for more on his record.