By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Analyst
Jan. 18, 2010 – The relief efforts in Haiti remained high priority with high profile presidential power backing America’s efforts to raise money, awareness and coordinated support in the devastated country.
President Obama hosted former Presidents William J. Clinton and George W. Bush Saturday to announce they were joining forces to raise money for the Haiti relief effort. A website, public service announcement and public appearances are rounding out their efforts.
Both former presidents set political differences aside and hit the airwaves Sunday on the morning talk shows to promote their new endeavor. Clinton told NBC’s Meet the Press, “I think it reminds us of our common humanity. It reminds us of needs that go beyond fleeting disagreements. Whatever our policy disputes are, they do not seem to matter much when people are dying,” he said.
Bush agreed telling Fox News it’s important when people make donations they are confident how the money will be spent. “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.”
The White House coordinated a briefing Sunday with those on the front line in Haiti. Tim Callaghan, advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean told reporters, “The major needs that we see at this point — urban search- and-rescue is still ongoing — food; water; medical needs; and the overall coordination.”
Callaghan said search and rescue is a primary focus, but they are working to get more disaster medical teams in place, more medical supplies, and food and water the heavy hit areas.
Col. Buck Elton, Commander Society South Haiti wanted to dispel stories of security problems in Haiti causing issues with relief efforts. “The situation at the airfield is quite manageable. The Haitian people are patient and cooperative and there have been no issues at the airfield involving the security forces and the exit of supplies out of the airfield or the entrance of citizens requiring evacuation, Elton said.
“Everything has been very orderly. The Haitian police force is helping out tremendously with crowd control and with traffic control around the airfield, and we have had no major incidents,” he added.
On Monday Clinton is planning to go to Haiti to deliver emergency relief supplies as part of the assistance being given through the William J. Clinton Foundation. Clinton had been working with the United Nations and other international groups to assist the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere long before earthquake. During his visit he is planning to meet with President Rene Preval and other members of the Haitian government.