I met former with Senators Daschle and Frist this morning to discuss the ONE Campaign

The global anti-poverty effort, the ONE Campaign, held a small meeting this morning for a few bloggers from the right and the left with the new campaign co-chairs, former Senator Majority Leaders Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Bill Frist (R-TN). The campaign is launching a $30 million effort to influence the 2008 elections here in the US by getting all the presidential candidates to endorse the following goals:

5 Achievable Goals

1. Save 15,000 lives a day by fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, three of the world’s most devastating diseases.
2. Prevent 5.4 million young children from dying each year from poverty-related illnesses and 400,000 women from dying in childbirth each year.
3. Provide free access to primary education for 77 million out-of-school children with a special emphasis on girls.
4. Improve the living conditions of vulnerable populations by, for example, providing access to clean water for 450 million people and basic sanitation to more than 700 million people.
5. Reduce by half the number of people in the world who suffer from hunger, resulting in 300 million “fewer” hungry people each year.

I was struck by two things at the Daschle-Frist meeting. First, some of the conservative bloggers were really into the campaign. And second, Senator Frist seemed awfully into the campaign as well. As a Democrat, I’m not accustomed to finding Republicans who care about HIV/AIDS and world poverty. It’s was a nice thing to see.

I raised a few concerns to the Senators. First, compassion fatigue/foreign fatigue. After the ongoing debacle in Iraq, I wonder whether Americans are going to be in the mood for a very expensive foreign adventure any time soon. Having said that, saving the poor is a totally different venture than fighting a war, and it’s quite possible the public would welcome a warm and fuzzy change of pace. My second concern was whether the ONE Campaign had the gumption it will need to get politicians off the dime. Meaning, it’s a bipartisan campaign made up of a coalition of liberal and conservative non-profits. I can’t speak for the conservative non-profits, but the liberal ones can sometimes be a bit wimpy. They don’t want to ruffle feathers, and don’t want to offend politicians. Their standard refrain to any proposal is “we can’t do THAT.” The ONE Campaign is going to need to browbeat its own member organizations just as fiercely as it browbeats our politicians.

But all in all, I think this is great. It’s about time AMERICA re-engaged the world in a good, positive, helpful way. It also wouldn’t hurt us to find a goal that we can all agree on, left and right.

After the briefing, ONE held an event at St. Mark’s church. As I’d already had my briefing, I stayed for the beginning, which included the African Children’s Choir – see video below.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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