Former Pa. Sens. Santorum, Wofford Serve As State Co-Chairs of ONE Vote ’08, Bring Attention to HIV/AIDS
Former Pennsylvania Sens. Rick Santorum (R) and Harris Wofford (D), who competed in a "bitter and high-profile" Senate race in the 1990s, are joining together to serve as state co-chairs of ONE Vote '08 -- which aims to bring attention to issues of extreme poverty and global disease, including HIV/AIDS, during the presidential campaign -- the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The group -- an offshoot of the organization ONE, which was founded by Irish musician Bono -- is co-chaired nationally by former Senate Majority Leaders Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).
ONE Vote '08 initially turned to Santorum because of his work as a senator on behalf of projects that combat HIV/AIDS. Bono once described Santorum as "a defender of the most vulnerable." Santorum then suggested Wofford to co-chair a nonpartisan effort. Since their 1994 race, which Santorum won, the two men have worked together on topics such as faith-based community initiatives and national service. Santorum said, "As a politician, I think you have an obligation to show the public that you fight on the issues and that it's not personal," adding, "To prove it, you should go out of your way to work together on issues that you both care about."
Both presumptive presidential candidates Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have already agreed to continue the Bush administration's efforts to fight HIV/AIDS and malaria in low-income countries and to visit Africa during a first term, but Wofford said that does not eliminate the need for continued political pressure. Wofford said, "When there is common ground between the candidates on a good issue like this, it's very important that it not be relegated to the periphery just because it's not controversial."
According to the Inquirer, ONE Vote '08 would like to hear more details from McCain and Obama and is hoping Santorum and Wofford can help. Taylor Royle, a spokesperson for the effort, said, "We want them to talk to their friends, to the press and to the campaigns directly about why this is important," adding, "We want them to talk in public and behind the scenes" (Eichel, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/1).