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Transcript: Former Presidents Bush, Clinton on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published January 18, 2010 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a rush transcript of the January 17, 2010, edition of "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRIT HUME, GUEST HOST: On Saturday, President Obama asked former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to help with the Haiti relief efforts. After their White House meeting, the two former presidents sat down with FOX News senior White House correspondent Major Garrett.
FOX NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT MAJOR GARRETT: President Bush, President Clinton, thank you very much for joining us on "Fox News Sunday."
First question to the two of you: Do you intend to go to Haiti any time soon? And if not, why not?
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I don't intend to go anytime soon, and I do think it'll be a — there will be an appropriate time for the president and I to go down in our capacity as co-heads of the Clinton-Bush Fund, but I have no intention of going any time soon.
GARRETT: Bad idea to go down now, sir?
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Well, I may go in a few days because of my U.N. job. But if I do, I'm going to try to stay out of the way — that is, just do the work I have to do to work some things through with the Haitian government and thank people for what we're doing and see what else I'm supposed to do.
But I agree with President Bush. We don't need more people down there now unless they are literally delivering, providing, food, water, shelter, medicine, medical care. It's chaos. You've seen it on — you report it every night, every day. And all of us should be helping.
But the airport — it's all they can do to manage the planes that they have to bring in and out of there. So I think there are some — if you have a really good reason to go, you should go. Otherwise, everybody should stay.
Now, in the next — after the emergency passes, we'll go, and we'll go more than once. But we need to let the people get fed and...
GARRETT: Picking up on your point, Mr. President, how have you two personally reacted to what you've seen? When did you start seeing it, and how have you felt it internally?
BUSH: I've been watching TV from Dallas, Texas, and I feel sick to my stomach. I feel — it's really emotional, and it's — that's the way it is for a lot of Americans. And therefore, a lot of Americans are going to want to help. And our job is to make sure their help is not squandered, that it's spent properly.
GARRETT: President Clinton, you have a deep historic relationship, personal relationship. How has it affected you personally?
CLINTON: Well, it's been extremely painful because of — considering I went down there, you know, in December of 1975 the first time, because I was heavily involved when I was president, because my foundation worked there afterward, and because of the work I was doing with the U.N.
I know a lot of the people who perished in the U.N. building, so — but I also think — I just — I've been almost equally moved just by what we've all seen on television.
And I'm just grateful that we're in a position to help, you know, because I think every American who has watched this, and probably every citizen of the world who's watched this, says, "Gosh, I wish I could do something."
Well, you can do something. And if you just have one dollar, or $5, or $10 now, you can send it to our Web site or any of the others that — to just — because now we've got to help them get through the days. In a few weeks we'll be working on rebuilding. But right now, we got to survive.
GARRETT: President bush, as President Obama pointed out, PEPFAR has been an enormously important part of Haiti. Your brother Jeb knows the region, knows it well — your father. Do you think this could this be a larger Bush family effort? Do you plan on enlisting either your brother or your father in any of the efforts?
BUSH: They're going to want to help. The — and Laura went down there to analyze the PEPFAR program, since — and we've had an interest — certainly not quite as deep as Bill's. He and the secretary of state have spent a lot of time down there.
We care about it. I care about it because if you see a neighbor in need, it's important to help. And so if people do want to help, they ought to — they ought to dial up — one place to dial is our Web site, which is clintonbushhaitifund.org.
And you know, one of the things I'm concerned about, Major, is there's going to be an outpouring of money. And I just want people to make sure that they're careful about where they send their money.
And we're — we can assure them there will be transparency and the money will be accounted for and then, more importantly, spent on programs that will be effective on the ground.
GARRETT: President Clinton, I want to talk to you about briquettes, organic briquettes, in Haiti. You carry one around with you.
Explain briefly to our audience, who may not understand what this means, how something that small can change what's happening now and change the face of Haiti.
CLINTON: Well, before this earthquake hit, Haiti's per capita income was about $780 a year. Seventy-five percent of the people were living on less than $2 a day.
One of the big problems was the deforestation. One of the reasons that the hurricanes hurt more there is its trees have been taken down. People will cut...
GARRETT: For fuel.
CLINTON: For fuel. They cut up the trees for charcoal to cook dinner. By the same token, Port-au-Prince and the other cities, like most cities in poor countries, hardly pick up the garbage. And they have these unsightly landfills that are public health menaces.
There's a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince which brought the crime rate down and the employment rate up by collecting the garbage, taking the organic material and turning it into fertilizer for farmers, recycling the plastic and the metal, and taking the paper and mixing it with charcoal — I mean, with sawdust and wetting it, then drying it and cutting it in these little briquettes.
And three of them will burn as much or as long to cook dinner for a Haitian family as charcoal, and at about a quarter of the price. So it's - - you employ ten times as many people in the process. You save money for the families. You reduce the incentives to tear down the trees.
And if you do that and, at the same time, build income-earning trees like mango trees, reconstitute the mahogany forest, plant jatropa and other of these fast-growing trees you can cut down without deforestation — that is, the roots stay and they grow up again — you can really — this will — this will be a part of Haiti's rebuilding.
I know it's hard for people to think about that now. But these — this government and the people of Haiti had an economic development plan that I was helping them to implement, and we're going to go back to it once the smoke clears.
And it — that's the kind of thing that can make a huge difference. That's why your listeners need to know if they got $5 to send today or six months from now, they can make a difference there.
GARRETT: President Bush, many Americans who are in Haiti are there as missionaries. There is an incredibly strong faith-based commitment of America to Haiti.
GARRETT: Talk to us about that for a minute and how that should — motivates the two of you and Americans generally.
BUSH: A lot of people hear the call to love a neighbor like they'd like to be loved themselves. My own church, Highland Park United Methodist Church, had a group of church members in an eye clinic. They fortunately came out. Sadly, one person died.
But Haiti has been a focus for a lot of the faith-based groups because they see incredible suffering and great poverty and great need. The ultimate recovery of Haiti is going to be aided by faith- based — the faith-based communities. It's not going to be only faith-based community, but it will be helped by the faith-based community.
And for those of faith who want to help, our advice is send money now. And once things stabilize, then it's — then you can lend your talent and time.
CLINTON: I just want to echo that. Haiti has 10,000 non- governmental organizations active there. That's the — per capita, the largest number in the world except for India. And an enormous number of them are American faith-based groups.
We have gotten them all to try to register, organize, so that they can coordinate their efforts and amplify the impact of their efforts. And they're going to be a very important part not only of dealing with this emergency but the long-term reconstruction of Haiti.
I think the American people should know that. They should be proud of that.
GARRETT: President Bush, President Clinton, thank you very much for joining us on "Fox News Sunday." We look forward to talking to you again for an update on this should circumstances warrant.
CLINTON: Thank you.
GARRETT: From the Map Room, Brit, back to you.
HUME: Thank you, Major. And thanks to both the former presidents.
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