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Huckabee refuses to retract '92 remarks on AIDS patients

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  • NEW: Mike Huckabee stands by '92 remarks on homosexuality as "sinful lifestyle"
  • Huckabee also called for isolation of AIDS patients in earlier questionnaire
  • GOP candidate says he wouldn't say same thing about AIDS patients today
  • But Huckabee says he won't retract his earlier comments on AIDS
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee refused to retract a statement he made in 1992 calling for the isolation of AIDS patients.

Responding to an Associated Press questionnaire, Huckabee said steps should be taken to "isolate the carriers of this plague" during his failed run for a U.S. Senate seat from Arkansas 15 years ago.

He said he probably would not make the same statement today because of what is known about how HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is transmitted.

"I had simply made the point -- and I still believe this today -- that in the late '80s and early '90s, when we didn't know as much as we do now about AIDS, we were acting more out of political correctness than we were about the normal public health protocols that we would have acted," Huckabee told Fox News on Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded in 1985 that AIDS was not transmitted by casual contact. But Huckabee said at the time, "there were other concerns being voiced by public health officials."

He disputed the characterization that he was calling for individuals infected with HIV to be quarantined.

"Now, would I say things a little differently in 2007? Probably so," Huckabee told Fox News. "But I'm not going to recant or retract from the statement that I did make because, again, the point was not saying we ought to lock people up who have HIV/AIDS."

Huckabee did not explain how individuals with HIV would have been isolated.

During his Senate run, Huckabee also told the AP in the questionnaire that he found homosexuality to be "an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle."

Speaking Monday in Miami, Florida, Huckabee said he still stands by his earlier remarks on homosexuality. Video Watch Huckabee's comments about homosexuals »

"Let's understand what sin means," Huckabee said. "Sin means missing the mark. Missing the mark could mean missing the mark in any area. We've all missed the mark."

The former Baptist minister said the "proper relationship" is one between a married man and woman having children.

"If we didn't have that as the ideal, we wouldn't have a civilization that was able to perpetuate," he said. "So, rather than read into something incredibly out of line, just read into the fact that I believe that the ideal relationship is one-man, one-woman, pro-life."

The former Arkansas governor has come under increased scrutiny since his rapid rise in the polls, particularly in Iowa, where a McClatchy-MSNBC poll conducted December 3-6 has him leading the GOP field with the support of 32 percent of likely caucus-goers.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had been leading in Iowa for months, was the second closest rival for the GOP presidential nomination, at 20 percent. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Huckabee also has come under scrutiny for his role in the parole of a convicted rapist who later went on to rape and kill another woman.

As Arkansas governor, Huckabee supported the parole of Wayne DuMond, who was convicted and sentenced to a life term for raping a 17-year-old girl. After DuMond's parole in 1999, he killed a woman in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2003. DuMond died in prison two years later.

Huckabee wrote a 1996 letter to DuMond supporting his release from prison, but the candidate said the decision was made by a parole board dominated by appointees of his predecessors, Jim Guy Tucker and Bill Clinton.

Former members of the Arkansas Parole Board at the time also said that Huckabee pressured them to approve DuMond's parole, though Huckabee denies doing so.

Last week, the mother of the woman DuMond killed in 2003 said she would actively campaign against Huckabee.

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In an interview with CNN, Huckabee called it "heartbreaking" that the rape victims' deaths had become politicized.

"There are families who are truly, understandably and reasonably, grief-stricken," Huckabee said. "And for people to now politicize these deaths and to try to make a political case out of it rather than to simply understand that a system failed and that we ought to extend our grief and heartfelt sorrow to these families, I just regret politics is reduced to that." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Dana Bash and Evan Glass contributed to this report.

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