5 for­mer pres­i­dents ap­pear to­gether for hur­ri­cane re­lief

The Standard Journal - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Will Weis­sert

AUSTIN, Texas — The five liv­ing for­mer pres­i­dents ap­peared to­gether for the first time since 2013 at a con­cert to raise money for vic­tims of dev­as­tat­ing hur­ri­canes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands.

Democrats Barack Obama, Bill Clin­ton and Jimmy Carter and Repub­li­cans Ge­orge H.W. and Ge­orge W. Bush gath­ered on stage in Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas, home of Texas A&M Univer­sity, putting aside pol­i­tics to try to unite the coun­try af­ter the storms.

Texas A&M is home to the pres­i­den­tial li­brary of the elder Bush. At 93, he has a form of Parkin­son’s dis­ease and ap­peared in a wheel­chair at the event. His wife Bar­bara and Ge­orge W. Bush’s wife Laura Bush were in the au­di­ence.

The con­cert fea­tured the coun­try mu­sic band Alabama, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer ‘Soul Man’ Sam Moore, gospel leg­end Yolanda Adams and Texas mu­si­cians Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.

The ap­peal backed by the ex- pres­i­dents has raised $31 mil­lion since it be­gan on Sept. 7, said Jim Mc­Grath, spokesman for Ge­orge H.W. Bush.

Ear­lier, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump recorded a video greet­ing that avoids his past crit­i­cism of the for­mer pres­i­dents and called them “some of Amer­ica’s finest pub­lic ser­vants.”

“This won­der­ful ef­fort re­minds us that we truly are one na­tion un­der God, all uni­fied by our val­ues and de­vo­tion to one an­other,” Trump said in the mes­sage.

The last time the five were to­gether was in 2013, when Obama was still in of­fice, at the ded­i­ca­tion of Ge­orge W. Bush’s pres­i­den­tial li­brary in Dal­las.

There is prece­dent for for­mer pres­i­dents join­ing forces for post-dis­as­ter fundrais­ing. Ge­orge H.W. Bush and Bill Clin­ton raised money to­gether af­ter the 2004 South Asia tsunami and Hur­ri­cane Katrina the next year. Clin­ton and Ge­orge W. Bush com­bined to seek do­na­tions af­ter Haiti’s 2011 earth­quake.

“It’s cer­tainly a triple, if not a home run, every time,” said Bran­don Rot­ting­haus, a po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Hous­ton. “Pres­i­dents have the most pow­er­ful and pro­lific fundrais­ing base of any politi­cian in the world. When they send out a call for help, es­pe­cially on some­thing that’s not po­lit­i­cal, they can rake in big money.”

Amid crit­i­cism that his ad­min­is­tra­tion was ini­tially slow to aid storm-rav­aged Puerto Rico, Trump ac­cused is­land lead­ers of “poor lead­er­ship,” and later tweeted that, “Elec­tric and all in­fra­struc­ture was dis­as­ter be­fore hur­ri­canes” while say­ing that Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, firstre­spon­ders and mil­i­tary per­son­nel wouldn’t be able to stay there for­ever.

But Rot­ting­haus said those at­tend­ing the con­cert were al­ways go­ing to be viewed more fa­vor­ably since polling con- sis­tently shows that “any ex-pres­i­dent is seen as less po­lar­iz­ing than the cur­rent pres­i­dent.”

“They can’t get away from the pol­i­tics of the mo­ment,” he said of cur­rent White House oc­cu­pants. “Ex-pres­i­dents are able to step back and be seen as the na­tion’s grand­fa­ther.”

Hur­ri­cane Har­vey slammed into Texas’ Gulf Coast as a Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane on Aug. 25, even­tu­ally un­leash­ing his­toric flood­ing in Hous­ton and killing more than 80 peo­ple. Shortly there­after, all five ex-pres­i­dents ap­peared in a com­mer­cial for a fundrais­ing ef­fort known as “One Amer­ica Ap­peal.” In it, Ge­orge W. Bush says, “Peo­ple are hurt­ing down here.” His fa­ther, Ge­orge H.W. Bush, then replies, “We love you, Texas.”

A web­site ac­cept­ing do­na­tions, OneAmer­i­caAp­peal.org, was created with 100 per­cent of pro­ceeds pledged to hur­ri­cane re­lief.

Hur­ri­cane Irma sub­se­quently hit Florida and Hur­ri­cane Maria bat­tered Puerto Rico. Both af­fected the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands.

L.M. Otero / The As­so­ci­ated Press For­mer pres­i­dents Jimmy Carter (from left), Ge­orge H.W. Bush, Ge­orge W. Bush, Bill Clin­ton and Barack Obama gather on stage to open a con­cert at Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas, to raise re­lief funds for vic­tims of Hur­ri­canes Harv

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.