Bush Addresses NAACP Convention, Pledges To Address HIV/AIDS With Organization
President Bush on Thursday for the first time since he was elected addressed the NAACP's national convention and pledged to work with the organization to address issues such as HIV/AIDS, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. During his 45-minute speech, Bush said that HIV/AIDS is highly affecting communities in the country, adding that Congress should reform and reauthorize the Ryan White Care Act (Fulbright, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/21). He pledged to create a domestic program aimed at combating HIV/AIDS, which he said disproportionately affects blacks (Wallsten, Los Angeles Times, 7/21). Bush also said that he will urge Congress to increase funding for HIV/AIDS research (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/21). In addition, Bush said that his administration hopes to work with the NAACP to launch a nationwide effort aimed at increasing access to rapid HIV tests because "one of the reasons the disease is spreading so quickly is many don't realize they have the virus." Bush also spoke of the effects of HIV/AIDS worldwide, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, and highlighted the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (White House release, 7/20).
Although Bush "mentioned a few areas in which he and the NAACP are genuinely in sync, such as giving Africa more help to battle HIV/AIDS," his speech overall was "pedestrian" and a "model of cautious conciliation," a Los Angeles Times editorial says. "The president deserves credit for resisting the urge to pander," the editorial says, adding, "But his speech also raises a question: If that's all he wanted to say, did he have to wait five years?" (Los Angeles Times, 7/21).