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Beyond New Hampshire: GOP Candidates On Global Health

Still, an Indiana law professor, David Fidler, dug up a couple of telling nuggets that give a tiny glimpse into what these guys are all about, or at least what Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney think about overseas aid. In a nutshell: Romney doesn't think much of it, and Santorum aligns himself with the old-Bush-style compassionate conservatism that supports humanitarian assistance. Fidler writes:

Romney and Santorum perhaps represent two streams in American conservatism that, at the moment, appear to diverge on PEPFAR [the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] and global health. Santorum expressly declares in his “10 Steps to Promote Our Interests Around the World“ that the US must “keep and expand” its humanitarian aid efforts, including on HIV/AIDS. Santorum strongly supported PEPFAR when he served in Congress. He also issued a statement on World AIDS Day in December 2011 underscoring PEPFAR’s importance and the “hope that in our lifetime, we may see the end of AIDS.” In Santorum, we see a conservatism embracing global health’s foreign policy importance to American ideals and interests—what Michael Gerson called “Rick Santorum and the return of compassionate conservatism.”

Romney’s official website, as far as I can tell, contains nothing on PEPFAR or global health. Searches on Romney’s website for “PEPFAR,” “HIV/AIDS,” and “global health” yielded no results. Romney’s official foreign policy white paper likewise contains nothing specific to global health. General searching on the Internet revealed some comments indicating reluctance on Romney’s part to commit political capital and fiscal pledges to the US global HIV/AIDS efforts (see, e.g., this Huffington Post item). In fairness, my poking around for Romney’s views on global health was not, shall I say, comprehensive and rigorous. However, my inchoate sampling perhaps suggests in Romney a conservatism imbued with skepticism about global health, including PEPFAR, as important for US foreign policy—a version of a more calculating conservatism less impressed with the alleged benefits of humanitarian assistance for American ideals and interests.

(Hat tip to Kaiser Health News for unearthing this post.)

This program aired on January 10, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Rachel Zimmerman Twitter Health Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for Bostonomix.

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