Bipartisan campaign targets poverty and AIDs

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

When it comes to poverty and AIDS, all politicians regardless of party want only one outcome.

On Tuesday, Cape Girardeau native and Republican strategist Jack Oliver joined Democratic strategist Mike McCurry in a teleconference to discuss their involvement in ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History.

Both men are featured in a nationally broadcast public service announcement that includes a mixture of celebrities and ordinary people standing in a line waiting to vote against global poverty and AIDS.

"There aren't two sides to these issues, there's only one," actor Matt Damon says as the camera pans past the line to a voting booth. The ONE campaign seeks to raise awareness about the emergency of AIDS and extreme poverty to prompt decision-makers to do more to save lives.

The commercial includes actors Julia Roberts and Don Cheadle, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, musician Toby Keith, journalist Nick Clooney and more.

McCurry and Oliver said their involvement in the public service announcement was a great way to showcase bipartisan support for a good cause. "It's fun to find an issue that Democrats and Republicans can work together on," Oliver said.

Oliver called compassion one of America's great strengths and noted that ONE supporters are in every state of the union.

The hope is that the 2.4 million ONE supporters will be able to ask political candidates to make the poverty and AIDS epidemic issues one they talk about. "We want this to become a mainstream issue," Oliver said.

A common misconception many people have is that America spends more on foreign aid that it actually does, McCurry said. Less than 0.1 percent of America's spending goes to foreign aid, he said.

Oliver noted that funding to fight HIV/AIDS has increased in recent years, and he expects more people and candidates to become aware of and speak about the global problems.

In a time when "nastiness" can overrun politics, McCurry said he was relieved to find a common goal all sides can work on together.

"When folks set aside political differences and find something they agree is a very liberating thing," McCurry said. "I hope that's a model of something we see more of and not less of in our national politics."

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