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. sunflower

    Bush always promoted himself as "compassionate." Glad to see he is doing the right thing.

    January 17, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  2. Bob

    Its good to see two past presidents of our country working together regardless of party affiliation. At some point all party ideologies converge on the idea that human life is worth saving. Good job guys.

    January 17, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    To those who think all Liberals do is bash GW Bush:

    At least our biggest radio personality (and I do mean "biggest" in the literal sense) and our "Christian" televangelists don't say that President Obama's efforts are solely for the purpose of appealing to African-Americans or blame Haiti for the earthquake because they made a pact with the devil.

    January 17, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. KO

    People on the left or right shouldn't be bashing any politician right now over this, whether it's conservatives (like Rush Limbaugh) criticizing Obama to liberals criticizing W for Katrina. I am a Democrat who strongly voted against George W Bush twice, but I support any effort and help he can bring to this situation, and am grateful that he and President Clinton are working together on this. Let's put partisanship aside and work together to save lives.

    January 17, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Banda

    Someone asked if other countries are helping. Frankly, I am not happy with the pace of response. I understand it takes times to organize but I am questioning why it took 3-4 days to get some field hospitals out. I am very grateful that Israel had 200 medics with a field hospital before anyone else.

    Shoudn't UN have a rapid deployment force?

    January 17, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. pink sapphire

    to blame George Bush, to blame anyone, for any of the problems associated with Katrina is to show how utterly clueless one is about what is faced in a humanitarian disaster

    January 17, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. usualone

    This is what America should be about, not the foolish bickering that produces nothing but problems for America. Why do we function only in a crisis? Shame on those who would divide us with harsh comments that cause most Americans unhappiness.

    January 17, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    It's funny: On the one hand, you have a former Republican president saying he wants to work with a former Democratic president to ensure the fund to help Haiti lasts longer than the TV crews and that the money is wisely spent. Bravo – and keep up the good work!

    On the other hand, you have Rush Limbaugh telling his listeners to not donate through any governmental organizations because the Democrats will funnel the money to their party and then put you on their mailing list and ask you to donate to them.

    The GOP has really sunk to new lows to tolerate someone like Limbaugh.

    January 17, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  9. carrieanne

    George W. Bush seemed nervous standing next to Obama and Clinton......like "a fish out of water" when it comes to Bush helping mankind and working together in a bi-partisan way for the greater good. It truly seems odd to me to see Bush working with anyone on any kind of humanitarian project, as he always seemed so arrogant and isolated. How did he ever find time to stop clearing brush on his Crawford TX ranch?

    January 17, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. Batnit

    Bush and Clinton got us through some very hard times and I hope Obama is up to the test. I work for the web site Storyburn and I see a lot of anger over where the US is heading in the stories that get posted. Obama can turn some of that around with a solid effort

    January 17, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  11. Chipster

    All these negative comments from both political sides are simply unnecessary. Bush and Clinton are working together to help people in need. Good for both of them and good for the Haitian victims.

    Can't we simply wish them and all of those in Haiti great success in their effort to provide for the victims and help them rebuild their lives?

    'Nuff said!

    January 17, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. Independent

    You know, it's disgusting seeing some of the trash posted here. Do you folks have nothing with substance to say other than the usual political trash talk? It's not only immature, it's disgusting when people are dying. Worst of all, it only shows how narrow mindedness. My 7-year old child has more tact. Get your heads of of the political blogs and into the real world.

    I'm proud of Bush and Clinton for doing this. If more of you showed this much unity, and heaven forbid any of our illustrious politicians, this country would stand for something again.

    January 17, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  13. Harold Trainer, USAF RET

    We need to quit getting people from the past. We need people of the future, progressive thinkers , liberals and conservatives but not Clinton and especially Bush who would be no reason for me to give money. I have already given and will give more but it has nothing to do with Bush especially, but also Clinton. These people have led our own country down the path to severe problems, war, recession etc. I do not trust them and do not understand why Obama wants to hide behind these two. Harold Trainer, USAF RET

    January 17, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    Weighing in on the "Dave" debate:

    I'm a Democrat and a Christian – and I have a very hard time with those who claim to be Christian and use their professed faith as an excuse for all of their bad behavior.

    I especially have a hard time with the likes of Pat Robertson, just another televangelist who interprets everything bad that happens as "They are to blame because they didn't do what God wanted. I know what God wants. Keep sending me money so I can keep telling you what God wants." Nothing more than getting rich off the fears of others.


    January 17, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. Skeptic

    "All those "tornadoes" that hit during my presidency." I think he meant hurricanes.

    January 17, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. B

    It was a mistake to put Bush on this effort as he has ZERO credibility...

    KATRINA – Still a disaster area, thanks to Bush and Co.

    January 17, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  17. Indy

    Unity is never a bad thing, and even though Limbaugh is 100% for failure and division and spreads hate for a living, it is good to see Bush and Clinton step up to the plate.We all know Limbaugh and his cult followers will be going to a very different and warm place after their lives are over and people that genuinely want to help these victims should be proud of themselves and the good that mankind can accomplish with unity.

    January 17, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  18. Steve in Kentucky

    George W. Bush's involvement definitely makes me LESS likely to contribute to relief in Haiti. Anything he has to do with I want no part of.

    January 17, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. Jokos Interbiz

    America should also turn their eyes on Nigeria. worst thing is about to happen in Nigeria that any two ears that hears it will tingle. You are talking of 50,000 deaths and we will be talking of 50, 000,000 deaths if you close your eyes on Nigeria. A country without president for 56days now.

    January 17, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  20. Jerry

    It's amazing how much more sincere G.W. Bush is than Clinton. Clinton is such a narcissist that only Obama exceeds him in self-love.

    Bush, on the other hand, has genuine care and sincerity.

    A truly great man, and person, unlike the current inhabitant of the White House.

    January 17, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. Karla

    To Think Again/I do not listen to Rush so I have no idea what he said but I am sure it was foolish. I have heard it reported that commentators on the left have also chimed in. Shame on anyone from both sides that have anything horrific to say. It is simply not the time.
    It is also not the time for all of these foolish remarks from people. Put up your $$$$ to help the people or find another site to trash people who step up to help. We can all find things we disagree with politicians on it is how our system works. But to use this disaster to spew ugly things to make yourself feel better makes you on the left no better than Rush and you on the right no better than Keith what's his name. Think about that and then give.

    January 17, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. reality check

    "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.

    This sums up eight years of the Bush administration, the problem was they never worried about the long term, just the next quarters fiscal statement. Once the situation stabilizies, histroy would suggest that Bush will declare "Mission Accomplished" and then take his eye off the ball for someone else to pick up the pieces later. Fortunately this time, we have people willing to look ahead with the idea of saving lives now, and leaveing the place in better shape than it was prior to this natural disaster.

    January 17, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. Rich

    If you tally up the comments on these blogs, you'll observe there is a lot more negativity and hate from the political left than the right.

    Regardless of that, anyone of any political affiliation who criticizes either Bush or Clinton for exercising leadership and trying to help is a moron, plain and simple.

    January 17, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  24. sunni

    Give Bush my cash? Not on your life! He already took everyone's money for 8 years to funnel to his wealthy corporate buddies. I'm sure he'll use this crisis to filter these donations to the some buddy-corporation of his, a la Blackwater, to go to Haiti when the Red Cross and others can do it just fine. All money I donate will be going directly to a reputable charity without Bush's filthy hands on it in the process.

    January 17, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  25. Lilarose in Bandon, OR

    Jerry, I will always remember George W. Bush as the man who caused me and countless others to be pepper-sprayed in my tiny hometown of Jacksonville, Oregon. Many people were hit by pepper balls, including two little girls, when we were gathered as a community for picnics while the Bushes decided to stay overnight at a local inn. Our town was totally unready to handle the security of their visit. A week later a student in a New England city died with a similar pepper ball hit her in the eye.

    We were really happy when the Bushes left town and we got back to normal. I like keeping George in Texas all of the time if possible.

    January 17, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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