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. rcg

    Well aren't these boys (George W. Bush & Bill Clinton) playing righteous! What they personally giving to the Haitian relief out of their many millions?

    January 17, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  2. Honestdude

    The failed foreign policies of Clinton and Bush are partly responsible for the chaotic situation in Haite before the earth quacke. Their foreign policies have been a total disaster and they should both be put in prison. They used the presidency to enrich themselfs and lead America into financial chaos.

    January 17, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  3. lila

    I'm a democrat and I feel a need to correct you, not all republicans are hateful.
    What you are thinking about are a small group of Christian fundamentalist who teach that God is vindictive and full of insecurity and jealousy and will send his children off to be tortured for eternity with no hope for salvation if they dare question a man written book taught by men. Men make mistakes and the bible is only as perfect as the vessels that wrote it. The bible is not perfect and the God described in it is not an evolved being. What people thought was the wrath of God was more often than not mothers natures natural population control mechanisms. If we look at what Jesus taught, and Jesus had a far more evolved understanding of God than the earlier profits, Jesus taught us that we must look after impoverished. Democrats see it as a countries duty to have social programs geared to take care of "the least of these". It's a far more evolved Government when teamed with capitalism. There has to be a balance of both. Norway being one of the most evolved Nations in the world is a good role model. Republicans believe Charity should be a matter of choice. Seeing that the top 1% are mostly republican it is true that "republicans" give more to Charity than democrats (little good it did in the great depression). The social service programs democrats have put in place in our government have helped millions upon millions of "the least of these". We don't have to pat ourself on the back for it though... because in the end.. it's simply the evolved thing to do.

    January 17, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  4. gary davis harbor oregon

    this is good seeing Bush with Clinton we would never see Darth Vader Cheney . 🙂

    January 17, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  5. Democrat no more

    Govenor Blanco of Louisiana would not allow the Federal Government
    to intercede in disaster relief until she was forced to by media coverage, FACT! The president of the Red Cross resigned because this same govenor wouldn't allow them to access the Superdome and Convention Center in NO. this govenor stated "If we feed them, they'll stay." FACT! The US congress passed legislation after Katrina that automatically gives the US Government jurisdiction for multi-state disasters usurping states rights. FACT! You can't blame Bush or FEMA for Katrina response when their hands were tied at the time. How did Congressman Jefferson get a national guard truck to take him to his flooded house so he could retrieve $100,000 hidden in his freezer? Blanco was getting ready to leave town until she found out that Bush was heading there. she was more concerned with what should she wear. FACT! Politics during natural disasters are an embarrassment to this country. To call Republicans hateful is a joke. What about the Catholic Church starting charity hospitals? What about Church organizations always providing food banks, clothing drives, and all the other charity projects? It's the missionaries in foreign countries that are murdered, kidnapped, and persecuted. You hypocritical liberal morons are a joke to all of us God fearing honest Americans.

    January 17, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  6. catmomtx

    Can we please just for one week let go of the partisan sniping ? Both political parties have faults and right now it is hard to see who in Congress is really trying to help the American people. I for one am sick to death of people going on and on about President Obama too. Give the man a chance to do the job he was elected to do. If you are having a problem perhaps it is time you started holding your Congress person responsible. They are the ones writing the bills. They are the ones playing the games. Congress are the ones screwing America and blocking anything the President wants to do.

    I really don't want to argue Katrina all over again BUT, the devastation would have happened even if everyone had evacuated. They still would have lost everything. You will never, ever get 100% evacuation. More people than ever evacuated in the wake of Katrina. Did you notice how many people refused to leave in Galveston, the Bolivar Peninsula and other extremely vulnerable areas off the gulf coast of Texas during Hurricane IKE. Quite a few people died and some still have not been found. You never hear people criticizing them. I wonder why?

    January 17, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  7. C.H.


    A lot of the people in New Orleans were poor and had no means of transportation. They were probably also afraid to leave what few possessions that they had. No one knew the levee would fail, although warnings had been around for years. Some people were forced to take the chance.

    January 17, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. rachel

    I hope they do they best they can. Also if I hear people ask why people didnt leave New Orleans one more time I swear I will scream. Its hard to leave when you have no where to go or when you are ill.

    January 17, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  9. Clinton is full of it.......

    he's the special envoy to Haiti and yet HE"S NOT THERE........where is he? Campaigning in Mass.-–sound right to you?????

    January 17, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. terry,va

    Say what you want about George Bush. He is a much bigger man than 99% of the people in this country for listening to Obummie trash him for 2 years and then to stand by Obummie and give his time and effort for something Obummie wanted him to do. Also as Bush was standing by Clinton to join him in help, Clinton was trash talking him in Ads being ran in MA. for Cloakley. People will say that is just politics, but it isn't. You either believe what you say or you are a LIAR. No other way to put it than that.

    January 17, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  11. Coger

    If personal shock could be measured on the Richter scale, mine at seeing President Obama allow George W. Bush the opportunity to speak to the American people—- for any reason at all—- would’ve made the Haitian quake seem a mere tremor. But allowing G.W. to ask for relief money, money G.W. guarantees will be spent wisely, that’s just plain old off the scale of reason.

    January 17, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  12. Maggie

    Thank you USA for being Haiti but come on stop for a moment stop cramming down our throats we Americans doing it all
    I have had 100 remarks from friends living here of another culture
    every country is doing its bit we are on a much bigger scale more man power
    So lets here it for the world.
    Stop all the bragging get the work done feed the people as I did
    LA Red Cross .all the debating is getting old.

    January 17, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. Robert Wooller Bradford England UK

    Even though I am a socialist, I take my hat off to Bush that he has finally found time to help out even. It wouldn't be very socialist of me to judge him and say he has not reacted quickly enough to a horrific event.

    January 17, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  14. Maggie

    LA Katrina nowhere to go was correct statement,I was there,
    Red Cross
    proper screw up.
    from all, looks like same Haiti brag brag but get the people fed and who gives a crap where its from whose doing most, get real ,
    this is Humanity not a game, of who gives more or are the best.country get on with the saving lives.and quit the bragging.

    January 17, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. Robert Wooller Bradford England UK

    I take my hat off to Bush that he has reacted quickly to a Katrina style event if that is the right phrase. I don't know why he was smiling the other day. when he was smiling coming out of the Whitehouse. Maybe if the presidents amd celebrities didn't have so much Haiti would have more!!!

    January 17, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. Eleanor

    Obviously the goal is to save as many lives as possible.

    January 17, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  17. terry,va

    @ Cogar.
    You are one of the 99% of the people that couldn't begin to show the character that Bush has shown. You are a part of the crowd that would blame Bush if the world came to an end. Historians not political bloggers will report that Bush was a well above average President.

    January 17, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  18. SteveUss

    Really?? All have heard about the devestation in Haiti and the best people can do is criticize President Bush... People need to focus on solving the problems at hand. We won't go anywhere as a people until we can do that..

    January 17, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  19. Fed Up

    Any other countries stepping up to the plate????

    January 17, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  20. Welsh

    How interesting to read the hateful responses posted by the leftist liberals, but not really all that surprising.

    Can't you liberals just stop your Bush Bashing for a moment and recognize that these two former presidents have put their differences aside to organize aid and relief for an extremely terrible situation, where 100s of thousands are at risk of dying if help does not come quickly?

    January 17, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  21. Chipster

    To Mike: Bush is not "in charge" of anything but raising funds to help the effort to save and provider for the earthquake victims. I commend him for stepping up.

    To Robert Wooller: your post makes no sense to me. How would it help the victims for celebrities and leaders to have less? Most celebrities and political leaders are generous with donations, using they're money to to help others and show gratitude for their good fortune.

    Without those generous donations, there would be far less help for the victims. Perhaps people who know you think you're paid more than you're worth. How generous have you been? What would you say to them? Envy is unattractive.

    Can't we just pitch in (like Bush and Clinton) to help these people and stop with the endless bickering?

    January 17, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  22. maria

    I did not like Bush when he was in office, but i am very proud to see him working with President Obama to help in this terrible catastrophe. I hope by his example, this will help unit this country together to help itself.

    Dave you're right, where are the churches? The mega ones, i mean, they have the most resources and seem to disappear when people need help. Smaller churches seem to do more, quietly and with less resources.

    January 17, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  23. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Perhaps 100,000 people dead, and the libs here can do nothing but bash GWB. Pitiful.

    January 17, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. indy

    I guess if Bush did nothing he would be blamed for that too? Honestly, he's not responsible for every wrong thing that's ever happened in the world. He'll stand and cheerlead while others do the work? What "work" will Clinton be doing? Let's give the partisanship a rest and just hope they raise a lot of money that is used to help the people of Haiti and not line the pockets of the Haitian government. It never ceases to amaze me that the Federal government is the only one ever blamed for the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. Why didn't the state or local government do more (use the school buses maybe) to get people out before the storm. The Federal government absolutely made mistakes, but please don't leave the mayor and governor out of the blame game.

    January 17, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  25. Chipster

    Bill Clinton balanced the budget, reduced the deficit, and left a surplus to the next Administration. He was a very good president and well-respected worldwide.

    Yes, he did cheat on his wife and we know it. We don't know about Bush Jr or Bush Sr. We don't know about Reagan, although we know that he cheated on his 1st wife. We know about Sanford but not about Rendell. We don't know about most of our other leaders, past and present. We know about John Edwards and Tiger Woods but we can't be sure if Phil Mickelson or Bob Dole ever cheated.

    So, you can't compare personal conduct with information you don't have. We hired Clinton to do a job and he did it pretty well. The rest is between him, his family, and God.

    Maybe you're more perfect than I and have absolutely no sins on your record. I'm Human and, although I don't cheat, I have other sins to account for. It is not my place to judge the flaws of others – the "beam in your own eye" thing.

    January 17, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
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