New York Times
Former U.S. president, Bill Clinton at the 2012 DNC.

The first presidential debate between Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney in the 2012 U.S elections is set for Wednesday, October 3 in Denver, Colorado.

As I have heard, for those of us who live and commute to work daily in Denver, we need to be prepared for the traffic nightmare that will happen from blocked streets and roads the day of the debate.

As Denver prepares for the historic event, we take a look back at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and examine former president, Bill Clinton’s speech during the convention and its connection to Republicans (GOP) and international affairs.

While Clinton’s speech has been praised for a strong affirmation and case for the re-election of Barack Obama, it is also considered a well-balanced speech, given that it not only made a case for the Democrats, but pointed to many good things that Republicans have done for America and the world.

More over, it was a brilliant speech not because Clinton trashed the Republicans for their failed policies, which he said led to the onset of America’s current economic woes, but more importantly because he gave praise where it was due. In his speech, Clinton acknowledged the important role that others, besides Democrats, were playing in building the American nation.

“Mr. Clinton extolled cooperation in his speech,” according to The New York Times.

The examples of cooperation that Clinton hit on include the U.S. Interstate Highly system, started by a Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower. That highway system stretches through Colorado and includes the acclaimed Eisenhower Tunnel on U.S. Interstate I-70. The tunnel is the highest vehicular tunnel in the world, according to the Colorado Department of transportation.

Among many other things Clinton alluded to is PEPFAR, otherwise known as the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief. We’ll look at PEPFAR in a moment.

But here is what Clinton said:

“Though I often disagree with Republicans, I never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate President Obama and the Democrats. After all, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to my home state to integrate Little Rock Central High and built the interstate highway system. And as governor, I worked with President Reagan on welfare reform and with President George H.W. Bush on national education goals. I am grateful to President George W. Bush for PEPFAR, which is saving the lives of millions of people in poor countries and to both Presidents Bush for the work we’ve done together after the South Asia tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake.

Through my foundation, in America and around the world, I work with Democrats, Republicans and Independents who are focused on solving problems and seizing opportunities, not fighting each other.”

What is PEPFAR and what it is supposed to do?

The program was started in 2003 by former president George W. Bush with strong bi-partisan support.

Designed as a “U.S. Government initiative to help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS around the world”, PEPFAR is “a historic commitment from the U.S. government” to help combat a single disease internationally. The initiative addresses a broad range of issues to include HIV and AIDS in sub Saharan Africa.

On July 30, 2008, PEPFAR was reauthorized by the U.S. congress under the  Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008, with a commitment of $48 billion over five years in dealing with HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis worldwide.

Currently, 20 African nations are participating in PEPFAR programs.

“Working in partnership with host nations, over ten years PEPFAR plans to support treatment for at least 3 million people; prevention of 12 million new infections; and care for 12 million people, including 5 million orphans and vulnerable children,” the PEPFAR organization states on its website.

In his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative on September 25, Mitt Romney picked up on the subject of PEPFAR as well. Romney characterized the program as an object of U.S. foreign aid as follows:

“There are three, quite legitimate, objects of our foreign aid.

First, to address humanitarian need. Such is the case with the PEPFAR initiative, which has given medical treatment to millions suffering from HIV and AIDS.

Second, to foster a substantial United States strategic interest, be it military, diplomatic, or economic.

And there is a third purpose, one that will receive more attention and a much higher priority in a Romney Administration. And that is aid that elevates people and brings about lasting change in communities and in nations.”

 


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