Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul says the United States can no longer afford to spend billions in humanitarian aid to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa and in other regions across the globe.
“I think the aid is all worthless,” Paul said Tuesday night during a foreign policy debate broadcast on CNN. “It doesn’t do any good for most of the people. You take money from poor people in this country and you end up giving it to rich people in poorer countries.”
Paul made the comments in response to a question from Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy secretary of defense, who pointed out that former President George W. Bush was a big proponent of foreign aid to Africa.
The Texas congressman offered his own idea for helping Africa. “We should export, maybe, some principles about free markets and sound money,” he said, “and maybe they can produce some of their wealth.”
“But this whole idea of talking about endless wars and endless foreign aid, it seems like nobody cares about the budget. We’re in big trouble and nobody wants to cut anything,” Paul said.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum disagreed.
“I believe it’s absolutely essential,” he said. “Africa was a country on the brink. On the brink of complete meltdown and chaos, which would’ve been fertile ground for the radical Islamists to be able to get a foot hold.”
Santorum said the United States should “promote our values” and use money to support “our friends.”
“I hear people up here talking about zeroing out foreign aid and humanitarian aid in particular. I think that’s absolutely the wrong course.”
Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain said he has to learn more before offering an opinion.
“It depends upon looking at the program and asking the question, ‘has that aid been successful?’ In other words, lets look at the whole problem. It may be worthwhile to continue, it may not. I would like to see the results. Just like every program we have domestically,” Cain said.
Eight Republican candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination met Tuesday to debate national security.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer moderated the debate, co-sponsored by CNN, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. It was conducted at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.