White House Recants Card’s Statements, Office of National AIDS Policy to Remain
The White House today reversed comments made by White House Chief of Staff Andy Card yesterday that President Bush will close the Office of National AIDS Policy, Reuters reports (Reuters, 2/7). Today's edition of USA Today reports that Card told the newspaper that the AIDS office would be shut down and that the "presumption that a White House bureaucracy looks the same from administration to administration is a myth." Card also told the paper that the decision to shut down the AIDS office "doesn't mean those issues aren't priorit[ies]" (Hall/Keen, USA Today, 2/7). According to Reuters, White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer said that Card was "mistaken" when he told USA Today the office would be closing. "Andy Card informed us ... that he was incorrect on his description of the AIDS office. ... The office of AIDS policy will continue at the White House. In addition, there will be somebody working as an AIDS Coordinator for the Domestic Policy Council who will continue the vital work designed to help fight the scourge of AIDS," Fleischer said. He added that he "could not explain why Card had made the mistake" (Reuters, 2/7).
The First Version
According to USA Today, Card said that a new AIDS coordinator in the Domestic Policy Council would handle AIDS policy in place of an AIDS office. Card also pointed out that Bush had addressed the issue of AIDS in Africa in a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus. In response to Card's statements, former Rep. Steve Gunderson (R-Wis.) told USA Today that the office closing would "sen[d] a signal that AIDS is over, when nothing could be further from the truth," adding that the decision to close the AIDS office would "probably be interpreted as negative about the Republican Party and the government generally." According to USA Today, Sandra Thurman, head of former President Clinton's AIDS office, said that she will "reserv[e] judgment," adding, "I hope this doesn't reflect a lack of concern" (USA Today, 2/7).