Playing the AIDS Card

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SAN FRANCISCO: Hoping to build support among gay voters, President Clinton says he will request an extra $65 million for AIDS drug assistance programs administered by the states, nearly doubling the current level of funding. White House officials said that the programs, which receive two-thirds of their funds from the federal government, are helping some 69,000 poor people who have the HIV virus. TIME White House correspondent J.F.O. McAllister reports that this will allay some of the complaints from AIDS activists, who believe there has been more talk than action on such assistance. "This is not a continuation of Clinton's AIDS policy so much as it is his his gay-election policy," McAllister says. "Not that this isn't a perfectly legitimate request to make. But considering the small sum -- $65 million isn't much in his overall budget -- this is just a little election year pork barrel." Even if Clinton's plan is dismissed by majority Republicans, the President has nothing to lose: the budget likely won't be approved until after the November election. -- Jenifer Mattos