Rock star Bono and Mike Pence exhibited mutual civility as they focused on their agreements rather than their disagreements. Bono assured Pence that his defense of President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) when he was a congressman back in 2003 was “how we know you.” (Bono was a big supporter of the plan and addressed congress about it.) Bono was soft-spoken with Pence in the exchange, the rock star alerting the audience to how busy Pence is (see below). But Bono’s decision to emphasize where Pence backed his agenda — “twice you defended [PEPFAR] on the House floor” — ignores Pence’s larger agenda, critics say. Bono’s neglect of Pence’s more controversial legislation and Planned Parenthood attacks is mystifying to some and seen as willfully negligent.
Critics debate whether Pence deserves praise for his HIV stance. When Indiana saw a flare up of HIV in 2015, Pence reportedly (Politico) used Obamacare to help battle it, with state health officials helping facilitate medical treatment for addicts — a move that helped staunch the epidemic. But in light of Pence’s fight to defund Planned Parenthood, one result of which closed HIV/AIDS testing facilities across Indiana, Bono’s amiable exchange left some onlookers angry and shaking their heads. “U2 and Bono are off my playlist,” wrote one.