Posted 10/27/2012 09:24 am
Updated 1 year ago
LITTLE ROCK — Amid political campaigns that focus largely on the state of the domestic economy, one group is arguing that Americans don't have it so bad when compared to people in other countries.
ONE, a non-partisan group co-founded by U2 lead singer Bono, has waded into the political arena, bringing conservative heavyweights such as former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee together with Democrats including former U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln to convince people that America shouldn't give up on humanitarian aid.
It's not that poverty has been absent from politicking this year. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan addressed it just this week, saying, "In this war on poverty, poverty is winning." But the stump speeches that mention poverty tend to focus on its role in America, not the world.
ONE aims to change that.
"For all our hard times, there are people who are significantly worse off than us," said ONE president and CEO Michael Elliott, who flew to Arkansas this week to speak at the Clinton School of Public Service.
Elliott's visit came shortly after two of the state's sons and daughters — Huckabee and Lincoln — put aside their differing political views and wrote an op-ed that says U.S. foreign aid still makes sense.
"From a security perspective, the fight against extreme poverty is one of the best ways to tackle the root causes of instability, violence, and war," Huckabee and Lincoln wrote in a piece in Politico this week.
Huckabee and Lincoln aside, ONE's campaigning arm has garnered other supporters in its non-partisan quest to hoist global poverty up as a priority in the Nov. 6 election.
Both President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney's campaigns have praised ONE in statements issued to the organization.
"I commend the ONE campaign for bringing more attention to the plight of global poverty," former Massachusetts Gov. Romney's statement on the ONE website says. "Although many Americans rightly are concerned about our current difficulties here at home, our nation never turns a blind eye to human suffering abroad."
Obama's expressed similar sentiments.
"The next four years will be full of tough choices," his statement to ONE says. "Some will argue that as we continue to grow our economy by investing in a strong middle class we must put our other commitments on hold. That choice is false — and it's not one we have to accept."
Plus, Elliott, Huckabee and Lincoln argue, the money that the U.S. spends on foreign aid is a relatively small amount.
"The programs that we advocate on behalf of take up well less than 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget, so we are not going to sort out the fiscal problems that we may have on the back of overseas development programs," Elliott said.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, broadcast or distributed.)