McCain on Condoms for HIV Prevention: ???

Not that HIV/AIDS is an important issue or anything... but it appears that Republican presidential hopeful John McCain hasn't been thinking much--or at all--about HIV prevention. The New York Times blog The Caucus reports that when asked about the subject at a recent campaign rally in Iowa, McCain looked completely stumped:

Did he support the distribution of taxpayer-subsidized condoms in Africa to fight the transmission of H.I.V.?

What followed was a long series of awkward pauses, glances up to the ceiling and the image of one of Mr. McCain's aides, standing off to the back, urgently motioning his press secretary to come to Mr. McCain's side.

The upshot was that Mr. McCain said he did not know this subject well, did not know his position on it, and relied on the advice of Senator Tom Coburn, a physician and Republican from Oklahoma.

His press secretary, Brian Jones, later reported that Mr. McCain had a record of voting against using government money to finance the distribution of condoms.

Check out the original post for a full transcript of the exchange. This one is a true gem, though:

"You know, I'm sure I've taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception - I'm sure I'm opposed to government spending on it, I'm sure I support the president's policies on it."

Honestly, I'm not sure which is worse here: the fact that a presidential hopeful isn't thinking about the most significant public health crisis facing our globe or that McCain is probably going to take the extreme and misguided position that government public health programs should not be distribute contraceptives.

Hat tip to Beth Pearson.

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Well said. I too was stupified when I came across this story for the same reasons.

what a way to start off his campaign, asking his support staff what his position is.
i'd think that an issue spanning global affairs, world health, and the politicization of science would garner more attention than that.
guess i know who i'm (not) voting for...