Bono and President George W. Bush met in the White House on March 14th to discuss Bono’s chief causes, the AIDS epidemic and financial assistance to poor countries. Bono explained the unlikely coupling of the rock star and the Republican saying, “It is much easier and hipper for me to be on the barricades with a handkerchief over my nose — it looks better on the resume of a rock & roll star. But I can do better by just getting into the White House and talking to a man who I believe listens, wants to listen, on these subjects.”
Mutual admiration abounded with Bush saluting Bono for his motivation to “achieve what his heart tells him, and that is, nobody, nobody, should be living in poverty and hopelessness in the world.” And according to Bono, President Bush went on to compare the AIDS epidemic to “genocide,” strong language that Bono believes makes wealthy nations who ignore the crisis complicit.
After their meeting in the Oval Office, Bono accompanied Bush on a speaking engagement to the Inter-American Development Bank, where Bush proposed spending $5 billion in aid for countries that respect human rights and reform their economies.
While this was the first meeting for Bush and Bono, it was not the first time he lobbied members of Bush’s cabinet. In February the singer met with National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice to discuss an increase in aid to poor countries. And a meeting with Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill has led to increased interest in funding the AIDS fight in poor countries.