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ONE Campaign

One Not-So-Simple Question For McCain And Obama

A campaign co-founded by U2's Bono, and backed with Gates and Google money, wants Barack Obama and John McCain to answer one question: "What will you do about global poverty and disease?"

It's a question with many parts, obviously. The ONE Campaign wants to stop the spread of malaria and AIDS, and to improve access to education and safe drinking water around the world. So it needs to make the American people care and persuade the next president to act. Right now the campaign's starting small, with that question and a petition.

Roughly 100,000 people signed the petition, which demands that the question be asked at tomorrow's presidential debate. And, perhaps in case that doesn't work (apparently only two questions about extreme poverty have been asked at debates since 1960), ONE is asking the question itself with a TV ad running on cable and continuing through the last presidential debate in mid-October.

Maybe the middle of a financial meltdown isn't the best time to ask people to contemplate malaria. But ONE has been planning — and financing — this campaign for a long time.

Google gave ONE $3 million this year "to ensure global health and development issues, specifically the need to conquer malaria, are prominently represented in 2008 U.S. presidential election campaigns." The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $22 million last year, according to the Foundation Center.

Also last year, ONE appointed a Gates Foundation exec as its new CEO. And it merged with Bono's organization DATA, which stands for Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa. DATA are the same folks who brought us (PRODUCT) RED — they really like capitalized letters — which is the brand that raises money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

John McCain might have a leg up on answering ONE's question, since he talked it over yesterday with Bono.