President Bush Names Randall Tobias to be Global AIDS
Coordinator Remarks by the President in Announcement
of the New Coordinator of U.S. Government Activities to Combat
HIV/AIDS Globally The Roosevelt Room
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all; please be seated. I appreciate very
much our Secretary of State for joining us, and Tommy Thompson, the
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary. I want to thank
Andrew Natsios, who's the administrator of USAID. I want to thank
Joe O'Neill, who is the Office of National AIDS Policy, for joining
us. I want to thank Elias Zerhouni, who is the director of the NIH.
Where are you, Elias? There you are; thank you for coming, Doctor.
And Tony Fauci, is here, as well -- honored you're here, Tony.
It's good to see Richard Lee
Armitage, who is the Deputy Secretary of the Department of State.
Thank you for coming, Rich. I appreciate the Tobias family for
joining us. Marianne, thanks for coming; and Paige and Tim and Todd
and Amy, I'm honored you all are here, as well.
Five weeks ago I signed into law the emergency action plan for
AIDS relief. It's one of the largest humanitarian undertakings in
our history. The plan will provide $15 billion over the next five
years to fight AIDS abroad. Millions of lives depend on the success
of this effort and we are determined to succeed.
To direct this mission, I have chosen a superb leader who knows a
great deal about lifesaving medicines, and who knows how to get
results. I'm pleased to announce my nomination of Randall Tobias to
serve as the Global AIDS Coordinator.
Randy is one of America's most talented and respected executives.
He was Vice Chairman of AT&T International and Chairman of ATT
International, guiding the firm through immense organizational
challenges. He went to head Eli Lilly and Company, one of our
nation's largest and most innovative pharmaceutical companies.
He is a highly regarded civic leader and philanthropist in his
home state of Indiana. Throughout his career, Randy has shown the
ability to manage complex organizations and to navigate government
bureaucracies. He has earned a reputation as an executive of great
energy, resourcefulness, good judgment and integrity.
As Global AIDS Coordinator, Randy will have the rank of
Ambassador, and will report directly to Secretary of State Powell.
He will coordinate all of our international HIV/AIDS activities for
all of our government departments and agencies. He will oversee all
resources of this program. And he will work with the faith-based and
community groups to get the job done. He will report regularly to
Congress on the progress and effectiveness of our efforts.
Randy Tobias has a mandate directly from me to get our AIDS
initiative up and running as soon as possible. We'll work quickly to
get help to the people who need it most by purchasing low-cost,
anti-retroviral medications and other drugs that are needed to save
lives. We will set up a broad and efficient network to deliver drugs
to the farthest reaches of Africa, even by motorcycle or bicycle.
We will train doctors and nurses and other health care
professionals so they can treat HIV/AIDS patients. Our efforts will
ensure that clinics and laboratories will be built or renovated and
then equipped. Child care workers will be hired and trained to care
for AIDS orphans, and people living with AIDS will get home-based
care to ease their suffering.
Throughout all regions of the targeted countries we will provide
HIV testing. We will support abstinence-based prevention education.
Faith-based and community organizations will have our help as they
provide treatment and prevention and support services in communities
affected by HIV/AIDS. And we're developing a system to monitor and
evaluate this entire program, so we can be sure we're getting the
Next week I will go to Africa to meet with leaders of African
countries and with some of the heroic men and women who are caring
for the sick and are saving lives. They deserve our praise. They
deserve our help, without delay. And they will have our help.
When I visit Africa I will reaffirm our nation's commitment to
helping Africans fight this disease. America makes this commitment
for a clear reason, directly rooted at our founding: we believe in
the value and dignity of every human life. We're putting that belief
We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we're eager to get
started. I'm hopeful that the Senate will act quickly to confirm
Randall Tobias as our Global AIDS Coordinator, and that the United
States Congress will fully fund my request for this lifesaving
initiative. I'm also hopeful that other nations of the world will
join us to combat the AIDS pandemic.
I want to thank you very much for coming. May God bless our work,
and may God bless the work of Randy Tobias.
MR. TOBIAS: Mr. President, thank you very much. It's an honor and
a privilege to be asked to take on this role, and I approach it with
enthusiasm and with optimism.
The statistics that describe the HIV/AIDS pandemic are really
nearly incomprehensible. AIDS has already killed almost 20 million
people in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is the number one cause of
death. And without intervention, it will claim the lives of
one-quarter of the population in the next decade. Of those in the
world who are infected with this disease, 75 percent -- nearly 32
million people -- live in Africa or in the Caribbean. More than 14
million children have been orphaned by this terrible plague.
Clearly, HIV/AIDS is first and foremost a health problem, but the
implications of this pandemic reach into every aspect of life. As
but one example, in a part of the world where malnutrition and
starvation are already rampant, 7 million agricultural workers in
Africa have already died from AIDS.
When you signed this legislation into law, you said that the
United States of America has a long tradition of sacrifice in the
cause of freedom and a long tradition of being generous in the
service of humanity. You reminded us that we are the nation of the
Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift, and the Peace Corps. And now, Mr.
President, thanks to your leadership, we are also the nation of the
emergency plan for AIDS relief.
Over the past few weeks, I have had the unique opportunity to
witness firsthand the strength and the depth of your personal
commitment to this effort. And I look forward to working with you
and those in your administration, with the Congress, and with the
many non-governmental faith-based and community organizations who
are already so engaged in doing so much. And I look forward to
listening to and learning from the leaders and the people of the
nations who are most impacted by this extraordinary crisis -- for,
in the end, they are what this is all about.
Thank you very much for this opportunity to help.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Randy. Good job.
I'll answer a couple of questions here today. Let me start off
Q Mr. President, a posse of small nations -- like the Ukraine and
Poland -- are materializing to help keep the peace in Iraq. But with
the attacks on U.S. forces and the casualty rates rising, what is
the administration doing to get larger powers, like France and
Germany and Russia, to join the American occupation there?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, we'll put together a force
structure who meets the threats on the ground. And we've got a lot
of forces there, ourselves. And as I said yesterday, anybody who
wants to harm American troops will be found and brought to justice.
There are some who feel like that if they attack us that we may
decide to leave prematurely. They don't understand what they're
talking about, if that's the case.
Let me finish. There are some who feel like -- that the
conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is,
bring them on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the
security situation. Of course we want other countries to help us --
Great Britain is there, Poland is there, Ukraine is there, you
mentioned. Anybody who wants to help, we'll welcome the help. But
we've got plenty tough force there right now to make sure the
situation is secure. We always welcome help. We're always glad to
include others in. But make no mistake about it -- and the enemy
shouldn't make any mistake about it -- we will deal with them
harshly if they continue to try to bring harm to the Iraqi people.
I also said yesterday an important point, that those who blow up
the electricity lines really aren't hurting America, they're hurting
the Iraq citizens; their own fellow citizens are being hurt. But we
will deal with them harshly, as well.
Q Sir, Liberians are hopeful the U.S. will send peace-keepers.
What's the likelihood of that, and how soon will you decide? And is
there a danger of U.S. forces being stretched too thin?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, we're looking at all options. I've
tasked the Secretary of State to talk to Kofi Annan on how best to
deal with Liberia. We're concerned when we see suffering, people are
suffering there -- the political instability is such that people are
But the good news is there's a cease-fire in place now. And one
of the things that Colin is going to do is to work closely with the
United Nations to see how best to keep the cease-fire in place.
We're exploring all options as to how to keep the situation peaceful
One thing has to happen: Mr. Taylor needs to leave the country.
And Colin has made that a -- I made it clear publicly; I've just
made it clear again; he made it clear to Kofi Annan. In order for
there to be peace and stability in Liberia, Charles Taylor needs to
We're looking at all options, Steve, and Colin has got the -- has
got the diplomatic initiative taking place.
Q Mr. President, we understand you talked with President Putin
THE PRESIDENT: I did. He wished me a happy birthday. (Laughter.)
Q It was a birthday phone call?
THE PRESIDENT: I expect you to do the same thing. (Laughter.)
Q Happy birthday to you, a few days early.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. It's not until the 6th, however.
Q You can never be too early with these things.
THE PRESIDENT: That's right. (Laughter.)
Q But did you discuss the situation in Iran and did you --
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we did.
Q -- and did you discuss the situation in Liberia?
THE PRESIDENT: No, we did not discuss the situation in Liberia.
We did discuss the situation in Iran. I thanked him for keeping the
pressure on the Iranian government to dismantle any notions they
might have of building a nuclear weapon.
And we're making progress on that front. Not only does Vladimir
Putin understand our concerns and shares the concerns, the EU, for
example, has sent out a very strong statement to the Iranians that
the world expects them to conform with the IAEA, to cooperate with
the IAEA, and to get rid of any plans to develop a nuclear weapon.
We also talked about North Korea. And I appreciate his
understanding that the best way to deal with North Korea is to do so
in a multinational forum, where the United States and China and
South Korea and Japan and, hopefully, Russia all sit down with the
North Koreans and make it clear that the world expects them to
dismantle a nuclear weapons program, and at the same time will be
willing to help the starving North Korean people.
We're making progress on those fronts, and it's helpful to be
able to cooperate with Russia in dealing with matters of
Q Mr. President, do you support, or do you oppose a federal
constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union
between a man and a woman?
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know if it's necessary yet. Let's let the
lawyers look at the full ramifications of the recent Supreme Court
hearing. What I do support is the notion that marriage is between a
man and a woman.
Any other questions? I'm willing to exhaust questions, today. I
feel like I'm on a role. (Laughter.)
Q I've got --
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Steve.
Q There's been some recent good news out of the Middle East,
would you like to comment on that? What do you expect the parties to
do now, the Palestinians and Israelis?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we're pleased with --
Q And when is Prime Minister Abbas coming?
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know that yet.
THE PRESIDENT: We are pleased with the progress in the Middle
East. I want to thank the parties in the Middle East for willing to
take a risk for peace. I am pleased with the hard work that our
Secretary of State has done, along with Ambassador Wolf, who has
been shuttling back and forth between parties, reminding people of
the commitments they made to our government -- me, personally -- the
commitments they made to me, personally, in Jordan.
I am optimistic, but I also recognize the nature of the Middle
East. I mean, there are people there who still hate. They hate
Israel. They hate the idea of peace. They can't stand the thought of
a peaceful state existing side-by-side with Israel. And they are
willing to -- may be willing to attack. And what we must continue to
do is to reject that kind of thought. That's why we spoke out
clearly. I spoke out, the Secretary of State has spoken out, on
Hamas. Hamas is not a peaceful organization when they're willing to
blow people up and destroy innocent life. And so we are making
progress, but the progress will be ultimately made when the world,
particularly that part of the world, firmly and finally rejects
The other thing that needs to happen, Steve, is that institutions
that will enable a Palestinian state to emerge need to be --
continued to be fostered and put in place. There needs to be a
constitution. There needs to be a capable security force. There
needs to be economic hope. The Palestinian people must know that by
accepting a peaceful government, by embracing the Prime Ministership
of Abu Mazen, that there is a better day ahead for them when it
comes to making a living.
And so we will work with all parties to promote economic
development in a secure environment. And so we're making progress.
I'm pleased. I think we're all, the best way to describe it is we're
really happy with what we've seen so far. But we're realists in this
administration. We understand that there has been years of hatred
and distrust. And we'll continue to keep the process moving forward.
I talked to President Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan today.
I praised them for their efforts. I continue to -- I urged them to
continue to stay involved in the process, that we all must continue
to -- I urge them to continue to stay involved in the process; that
we all must continue to reject terror; that we must call terrorists
what they -- by their real name. We must condemn terror in all
instances. We must cut off money to terrorist organizations in order
to keep this progress moving.
Q On weapons of mass destruction, is it fair to say now, after
two months of looking for them, that there is a discrepancy between
what the intelligence community and you and your top officials
described as the threat from Saddam Hussein, and what was actually
there on the ground?
THE PRESIDENT: No, Saddam Hussein had a weapons program.
Remember, he used them. He used chemical weapons on his own people.
Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat to the United States, because
we removed him. But he was a threat -- such a threat that my
predecessor, using the same intelligence, in 1998, ordered a bombing
of Iraq. I mean, so, no, he was a threat. He's not a threat now. And
the world is more peaceful by virtue of the fact that he is not in
See, we've been there, what, how many days? You're counting the
days since we've been there? Because I'm not. Eighty, ninety?
Frankly, it wasn't all that long ago that we started military
operations. And we got rid of him, much faster than a lot of people
thought. And so we're bringing some order to the country and we're
beginning to learn the truth.
But he played his hand, Terry -- he, Saddam Hussein -- when he
used chemical weapons. And then he played his hand by not letting
people come in and inspect for the weapons. He had them. And it's
just a matter of time. It's a matter of time. The man was a threat
to America. He's not a threat today.
But what we're really finding out, as well, is the threat he
posed to the Iraqi people. I mean, we have uncovered some
unbelievable scenes. I have not seen them, myself; they've been
described to me, what it means to see mass graves opened up, with
the remains of men and women and children murdered by that regime.
He was a threat to America. He was a threat to freedom-loving
countries. He was a threat in the Middle East. But what we're
finding out is the nature of this man when it came to how he dealt
with the Iraqi people, as well. And it was -- it's unbelievable what
he did. And I -- when it comes to the AIDS initiative, we believe in
human dignity, we also believe that everybody ought to live in free
And so we'll stay the course in Iraq. As I said, there's people
there that would like to run us out of there, create the conditions
where we get nervous and decide to leave. We're not going to get
nervous, and we're not leaving until we accomplish the task. And
that task is going to be a free country run by the Iraqi people. And
that, in turn, will help the peace in the Middle East. That, in
turn, will bring stability in a part of the world that needs
stability. And I am -- I'm optimistic about achieving this objective
because I believe that people want to be free. I believe it's in the
nature of the individual to love freedom and embrace freedom.
And so it has been a great honor to lead our nation in not only
the cause of humanitarian relief through an AIDS initiative, but
also to lead our nation to free people from the clutches of what
history will show was an incredibly barbaric regime.