DURHAM, N.H. – Former presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton put politics aside Saturday, urging University of New Hampshire graduates to focus on helping others both in their community and around the world.
The former rivals have worked together in recent years, raising millions of dollars for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.
"I can't tell you the selfish pleasure I get out of working with President Clinton," Bush told a chilly, damp crowd of about 17,000 at the outdoor ceremony. "It's a very selfish feeling in my heart to be out there doing something to help others."
Bush, who joked about all the "broke but happy parents" in the audience, told the 2,650 graduates that they don't have to run for office to become leaders.
"All you have to do is care, roll up your sleeves and claim one of society's problems as your own," he said.
He also contrasted the education the new graduates received with the teachings of radical Muslim schools overseas, saying one of the greatest struggles the nation faces is the "battle for young minds around the entire world."
Clinton told students that while they are graduating in a "culturally diverse and creative time," they also face a world marred by "inequality, insecurity, and — because of climate change and resource depletion — unsustainability."
"I believe that you are going to be given a great opportunity to change this world of division and divisiveness because it's also a world full of decency and hope," he said.
The former president also made a lighthearted reference to his wife's campaign for president in thanking J. Bonnie Newman, the university's interim president.
"Thank you Madam President Newman," he said. "I like the sound of that. I've decided that women should run everything, and George and I can play more golf."