On Fox News Sunday this morning, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee denied that he ever called for quarantining AIDS patients in 1992, claiming that he “didn’t say that we should quarantine,” but that the onset of the AIDS epidemic “was the first time in public health protocols” that “we didn’t isolate the carrier”:
Chris, I didn’t say that we should quarantine. I said it was the first time in public health protocols that when we had an infectious disease and we didn’t really know just how extensive and how dramatic it could be and the impact of it, that we didn’t isolate the carrier.
Huckabee then asserted that he stands by his 1992 comments, saying he wouldn’t “run from” or “recant” them. Watch it:
Huckabee is being disingenious at best when he says he didn’t call for quarantining AIDS patients. As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, Huckabee told the Associated Press in 1992 that “we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague”:
In 1992, Huckabee wrote, “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.”
“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.”
In the same AP interview, Huckabee also claimed that “homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk.”
As Fox’s Chris Wallace noted this morning, “seven years before” Huckabee “made” his statement, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) “said that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact.” At the time of his comments, the CDC had recently reported that there were almost 200,000 AIDS patients in the United States, and 126,159 people had already died from the syndrome.
UPDATE: Politico’s Mike Allen adds: “Dictionary.com: quar-an-tine (noun) a strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease.”
CHRIS WALLACE: As you rise in the polls, I don’t have to tell you that your past is becoming more of an issue.
It now turns out that when you ran for the Senate back in 1992, you called for quarantining AIDS patients, you opposed increased federal funding to find a cure, and you also said that homosexuality was a, quote, sinful lifestyle that could pose a dangerous health risk.
Do you stand by any of that now, Governor?
MIKE HUCKABEE: Chris, I didn’t say that we should quarantine. I said it was the first time in public health protocols that when we had an infectious disease and we didn’t really know just how extensive and how dramatic it could be and the impact of it, that we didn’t isolate the carrier.
Now, the headlines yesterday started saying that I called for quarantines, which if you’ll go back and read my comments, I did not.
I had simply made the point, and I still believe this today, that in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when we didn’t know as much as we do now about AIDS, we were acting more out of political correctness than we were about the normal public health protocols that we would have acted — as we have recently, for example, with avian flu, which — I spent hours and hours, and months, in fact, as a governor dealing with a pandemic plan that we were looking at which called for isolating carriers if they contracted that disease.
WALLACE: But, Governor, forgive me. I don’t think that’s right. All the way back in 1985, 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.
HUCKABEE: There was also the case of Kimberly Bergalis, who testified before Congress in 1991. She had contracted AIDS from her dentist.
We didn’t think that there was a casual transmission. There were studies that showed that. But there were other concerns being voiced by public health officials.
Now, would I say things a little differently in 2007? Probably so. But I’m not going to recant or retract from the statement that I did make because, again, the point was not saying we ought to lock people up who have HIV/AIDS.
I knew people who had AIDS. I had a close friend who died of it in the 1980s. He was a hemophiliac. He contracted it through a blood transfusion. I had other friends of mine, one of whom passed away — he was, in fact, homosexual.
But my point is that I was trying to talk about the different public health protocols that we were dealing with. I think what it really does show, though, is that when people are digging back into everything I’ve ever said and done — and I understand that, it’s part of the political process.
But what I’m not going to do is to go back and now try to change every story I’ve ever had. I’m going to simply say that that was exactly what I said. I don’t run from it, don’t recant from it.
Would I say it a little differently today? Sure, in light of 15 years of additional knowledge and understanding, I would.