Bush, Clinton join Obama at White House to kick off Haiti relief fund

President Barack Obama joined his two predecessors at the White House on Saturday to kick off a Haiti relief drive.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton returned to the White House to join Obama to speak about the "Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund," a relief fund for the earthquake-stricken nation being administered by the two former presidents.

"The two leaders with me today will ensure that this is matched by a historic effort beyond our government," Obama said in a Rose Garden appearance, during a somewhat temperate Saturday in Washington.

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"In the days ahead, they'll be asking everyone what they can do: individuals, corporations, NGOs, and institutions," Obama added. "By coming together in this way, these two leaders send an unmistakable message to the people of Haiti and to the people of the world: In these difficult hours, America stands united."

The fund has gone online with a website Obama promoted, and Clinton and Bush will make the rounds on the Sunday morning talk show circuit and beyond to kick off their support drive.

"I am so pleased to answer the call to work alongside President Clinton to mobilize the compassion of the American people," Bush said in brief remarks.

The former Republican president, who has largely stayed out of the public spotlight since leaving office a year ago, pleaded with Americans to send monetary donations.


"The most effective way for Americans to help the people of Haiti is to send money," he said. "I know a lot of people want to send blanket or water; just send your cash. One of the things the president and I will do is make sure your money is spent wisely."

Clinton, whose wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, will travel to Haiti today, drew on his experience as a U.N. special envoy to that nation to plead for relief assistance.

"I was in those hotels that collapsed. I had meals with people who are dead. The cathedral church that Hillary and I sat in 34 years ago is in total rubble," Clinton said. "But what these men have said is true: It is still one of the most remarkable, unique places I have ever been. And they can escape their history and build a better future if we do our part."

Clinton, who joined with Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, to coordinate a similar relief fund after the 2004 tsunami in southeast Asia, said that the new fund, under the administration of the two former presidents, would take lengths to "ensure the integrity of the proje