I was lucky to be part of a delegation of four South Carolina ONE members who were in the room as the GOP presidential candidates came to Wofford College to debate foreign policy for the first time this nominating season.
Before the big night on Saturday, candidates were all over the state, and we got a chance to talk with them about prioritizing the cost-effective and life-saving programs that ONE works to advance — it’s in our national security interest and is sound foreign policy.
We spoke to Rep. Michele Bachmann in Charleston and then again in Columbia at the Veterans Day parade along with Rep. Joe Wilson, one of our ONE Vote 2012 ambassadors. We also caught up with Gov. Rick Perry at the parade. ONE members also took to the upstate, engaging Gov. Mitt Romney and Speaker Newt Gingrich at events in the lead up to Saturday night at Wofford.
But the main event came when the candidates filed into the debate hall on Wofford’s campus. The debate covered the many complex issues that a would-be president would have to deal with in the foreign policy arena, including US foreign assistance. There was a lot of talk of working to make sure foreign policy dollars are spent wisely, which I think we can all agree on. What troubled me was that there was no clear designation between general foreign assistance, talking about aid to countries like Pakistan, and programs such as PEPFAR and other life-saving programs in other developing countries around the world.
As we look to the next foreign policy debate on Tuesday, November 22 in Washington, DC, let’s push these candidates to recognize the power of smart development assistance as solutions that save millions of lives, build a more stable world, and are a part of a proud American legacy. Let’s encourage the candidates to have a conversation with the American people about all these benefits for less than 1 percent of the US budget.
Take action now by sending a message to the presidential candidates here.
-Charlie Harris, South Carolina Field Organizer, ONE Vote 2012