January 17th, 2010
12:18 PM ET
8 years ago

Clinton, Bush say saving lives is top goal in Haiti

Washington (CNN) - Getting aid to Haiti right away to save lives is the first goal of the fund-raising initiative headed by George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, the two former U.S. presidents say.

In a pre-recorded interview broadcast Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Bush and Clinton said the new fund created by President Barack Obama also seeks to ensure that money keeps coming in after the news media moves on from last week's devastating earthquake.

"For me, success is helping save lives in the short term, and then we can worry about the long-term after the situation has been stabilized," Bush said.

Clinton, who also is the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, defined success as "setting up a network quickly to get the food, water, medicine, security and information people need."

The overall goal is to help Haiti resume "as quickly as possible" its efforts to build a "strong, modern society" after decades of political and social instability that made it the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere before the earthquake, Clinton said.

Officials in Haiti fear more than 100,000 people killed in the disaster.

Clinton noted that Haiti already was working to overcome its problems before the latest crisis.

"They have an economic plan," Clinton said. "We're going to have to amend it now, and substantially, to take account of the damage done."

Simply restoring Haiti to its impoverished state prior to the earthquake would amount to failure, Clinton said.

The two predecessors to Obama as U.S. leader also said the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (www.clintonbushaitifund.org) was intended to provide people with a safe place to continue donating money to help the Caribbean country.

"Our job it to set up a fund to make sure the compassion is still existent once the crisis gets off TV and make sure the money is wisely spent," Bush said.

That means getting the donated money quickly to organizations with experience working in Haiti, including faith-based groups and international aid groups, Bush and Clinton said.

"During these crises, all kinds of fake charities spring up that take advantage of people's good will," Bush said. "We're safe haven. We will make sure the money is accounted for and there's transparency and properly spent."

Both Bush and Clinton noted politics should play no role in responding to the crisis, with Clinton saying: "I hope that it will humanize us all in every aspect of our lives."

However, Clinton couldn't resist a little politicking, praising the Obama administration's response so far and noting that the president had "extraordinary taste" in a secretary of state - his wife, Hillary Clinton.

Clinton also offered warm praise for CNN's coverage of the Haiti earthquake.

"You made this come alive to the American people," Clinton said. "You put us in the skin of the Haitian people, and I'm personally very grateful."

For Bush, his return to Washington is a welcome chance to aid a worthy cause, but nothing more.

"I frankly don't miss the limelight," Bush said. "I'm glad to help out."

Filed under: Bill Clinton • George W. Bush • Haiti • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Dave

    Funny how the republicans claim to have God in "their corner", but they are always the last people to reluctantly help in a crisis situation. Maybe its nothing more than a Christian facade. .Look at Katrina. Look at the Robertson comments. Why are republicans so hateful?

    January 17, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. buckwheat

    We have many nations working together in Haiti trying to save and help millions of people to live and be a nation again. On the other side we have suicide bombers working in every nation in the world to defeat this idea of helping and doing it in the name of their God. Until mankind realizes God did not create religion we will always kill each other.Man invented religion to control and dominate. Man has not now, or ever, created a solitary thing from scratch.The ingredients for all things man brags about doing were already here. We even make ourselves so important in the workings of the world that we think we can destroy it. The world has been destroyed in one form or another many times before man was here but it keeps on ticking whether we are here or not. We are not really very important when you think about it and the wonders around us that work so perfectly keep working.

    January 17, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  3. Victor Sebastian

    It is a refreshing, wonderful change to see Presidents from both parties working together. All the nay-sayers are just full of bile and negativity. We need more of this and less of the partisan negativity from all sides.

    January 17, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  4. buckwheat

    I commend CNN for sending reporters to a place where they are really needed as in Haiti.I still hesitate to say any reporters are needed in an active war zone unless they are first trained as military personel and understand how you win wars. "Loose lips still sink ships."

    January 17, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  5. Mike S. New Orleans

    If I was a Haitian waiting for aid, and I heard that George Bush Jr. was in charge of it, I wouldn't feel very confident. Junior screwed up everything he ever touched: our economy, the surplus, two wars based on manufactured intelligence, and a secret foreign policy based on cowboy metaphors. I think the reformed drunk trustfunder should stay in Dallas and keep his magic wand of destruction out of Haiti.

    January 17, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  6. buckwheat

    If I remember right in bible school, which I hated, we were taught that God helps those who help themselves.With three weeks notice Katrina should not have ever claimed a soul. Haiti had no warning except from a guessing game that geologist play. I see people in Haiti trying to help each other in most cases and and that gives hope they are not destroying themselves as we here in the states are slowly doing. Fast forward to the same thing here and what do you think will happen in LA Atlanta, Detroit ,and the cities that are already controlled by a bunch of thug gangs that our politically correct government has created. There are not enough New Yorkers and others who helped in the
    9-11 chaos to control this mob that would take over if earthquakes rocked one of our big cities and cut off water and electricity.People of my age might be dead by then .We will be the lucky ones.

    January 17, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  7. dnr239s

    Buckwheat, I couldn't agree more with your comment "Until mankind realizes God did not create religion..." and couldn't have said it better. I used to be a regular church goer and had planned to attend a christian college; during my senior year, however, I began to see that it is often the church in which the most political and judgmental people congregate. I consider myself a spiritual person but religion couldn't be farther from godliness sometimes. Irregardless of religion, race, gender, etc. people fail to realize that we are all one in the same. My wife is currently an intern at the Medical Examiner and, believe it or not, we all look the same on the inside.

    January 17, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  8. Sroller

    I beg to differ with you Dave. The faith based causes have always been some of the first people on the scene when disaters strikes.
    Southern Bapt. are always there and ready for these situations. They were there after Katrina. Samaratin's Purse is always there when something happens. You just don't hear about it! Guess it doesn't make a good enough story for the media. So dig a little deeper, they are there just not yelling and saying look what we are doing! The media and the government want to say they are the ones helping the most. But in the long run we ALL need to be helping instead of pointing fingers, me included. If we spent as much time helping as we do complaining and pointing fingers, this would be a better world.

    January 17, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. csh

    Bill Clinton = Best President of My Lifetime

    George W Bush = Worst President in History.

    January 17, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    Clinton was never much of an admiral person, in his own personal character and behavior, so why should anyone listen to his appraisal of others?????

    Just another rotten politician, whose own personal behaviors, are totally reprehensible.

    I am embarrassed that he was ever President of the US.

    January 17, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. Mark

    Dave, Republicans aren't hateful. It's just that Democrats are too stupid to notice anything that isn't lock-step conformity with their party as hate.

    January 17, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  12. Eda

    John...why can FEMA deploy their Disaster Asistance Employees to this disaster area? We all understand that Haiti is not a US territory, but FEMA's workforce of DAE's is a powerful trained staff, that is used to work under this conditions. They will be awesome to set those distribution points that are needed right now. Mrs. Clinton, Mrs. Napolitano this is the time to show the world that you know what you are doing and that Katrina/Rita was actually a school for all of you. Don't seat there. Stand up for this people that are in so much need RIGHT NOW!

    January 17, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  13. buckwheat

    When seeing Clinton and Bush together,both with different political differences, puts a warm feeling inside that we sure do not have now in our government. We thought they were bad. We had a lot to learn.

    January 17, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  14. GI Joe

    Great news. It only took two democrats to get one republican to do something for society.

    January 17, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  15. Lynn

    The GOP spokesman, Rush Limbaugh, told his fanatical followers the U.S. has given enough to Haiti and should not send aid. Doesn't that speak volumns what the Limbaugh worshippers are really like. Evil comes to mind.

    January 17, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  16. Linda

    Dave says:
    .Look at Katrina. Look at the Robertson comments. Why are republicans so hateful?

    Dave you should not ask why Republicans are so hateful unless you also ask the same about Democrats. I have heard and read comments from both parties that should never have been said, A good example is Sarah Palin's Down Syndrone son. Those comments were really hateful.

    As far as Kartina goes, why did people wait so long before leaving their homes? They had plenty of warning and knew that this was coming. The loss of life in Katrina was because people didn't listen. Granted help was slow in coming but you can't blame just one person for that. It seems as if personal responsibility does not exist anymore and we are all quick to blame someone else for mistakes that we make. If I lived in New Orleans, with my family, you better believe that I would have left when the warning was put out that a big one was coming. Whether it hit or not, I would not have taken that chance.

    January 17, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. Charlie in Maine

    I know sometimes I get carried away by the negativity of politics. Reading the articles you put out and responding in a parisan way. I enjoy it too much to stop and let's face it CNN your articles especially on the ticker are designed to elicit partisn sniping (and truth be told I look forward to it)

    The thing about this disaster in Haiti is that it reminds us that along with the blessings of being lucky enough to be born into the American Experince ( or lucky enough to get to move here) goes the responsibilty to help others in need. In the end the blessings of liberty, prosperity and opportunity don't amount to much if you are not willing to share. I would like to thank both Pesident Clinton and Bush for reminding us of that.

    January 17, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. Dean

    I second buckwheats wise words.

    January 17, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  19. John

    Clinton showed that he can still speak out of both sides of his mouth. He was being cordial and working together with a better man than himself in the interview, while at the same time he was bashing him in phone canvassing for a lesser candidate in Massachusetts. Ah, the democrats are so good at pretending they are good people, aren't they?

    January 17, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. Carey

    So many crazies on the CNN comment boards as usual. Dave, have you ever heard of World Vision? Have you ever heard of Feed the Children? Christian charities that help children in every corner of the world. Do you realize that statistically republicans donate more of their money to charity than democrats? Your ignorance is painful.

    January 17, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  21. Truth and Justice


    January 17, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  22. simon

    Clinton invaded and occupied Haiti to re-instate Aristide.
    What was achieved by that?
    This time I believe Obama will make Haiti a US dependency.
    Much like Puerto Rico.

    January 17, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  23. rococo

    One of the first acts by Obama was to give a free pass to illegal Haitians in the U.S. No doubt they will be given emergency voting rights.

    January 17, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  24. peter

    The irony here is that Republican and Democratic party big shots (ex-Presidents) can team up and work together for another country (as they should...just as many other countries helped after Katrina), but we can get Republicans and Democrats to work together for the good of the USA!

    By the way, what do you team zombies have to say about Bill Clinton stooping to work with "the devil" (Bush) or Bush stooping to work with a "Godless Socialist" (Clinton). How dare these people work together, right? The opposition is PURE EVIL! Just ask Rush, Olbermann, Hannity, Beck, Maddow, and the other circus clowns who pretend to actually care about the USA more than pandering to their core audience for ratings and "premium subscription" revenue.

    January 17, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. John

    Clinton, Bush say saving lives is top goal in Haiti

    Bush will do nothing more than cheerlead while others do the actual work.

    As usual.

    January 17, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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