Five US ex-presidents take part in hurricane relief benefit

Former US presidents (from left) Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton at the hurricane relief concert in College Station, Texas, on Saturday. According to Mr George Bush's office, the effort by the three Democrats
Former US presidents (from left) Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton at the hurricane relief concert in College Station, Texas, on Saturday. According to Mr George Bush's office, the effort by the three Democrats and two Republicans has raised more than US$31 million (S$42 million) for the victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

COLLEGE STATION (Texas) • All five of the United States' living former presidents took to the stage at a benefit concert to raise money for victims of the hurricane-ravaged southern states of Texas, Florida and Louisiana as well as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George Bush and Jimmy Carter appeared together onstage at Texas A&M University last Saturday, praising Americans for their willingness to help fellow citizens and urging them to do more.

The effort by the three Democrats and two Republicans has raised more than US$31 million (S$42 million) from 80,000 donors for the victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, said the office of Mr George Bush.

Mr Obama said: "All of us on this stage here tonight could not be prouder of the response of Americans. When they see their neighbours and they see their friends, they see strangers in need, Americans step up."

Mr Carter, making an apparent play on President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan, said: "Let us all work together and make America still a greater volunteer nation."

The younger Mr Bush said: "I, too, am here to urge you to give to this fine fund, and I want to thank all the volunteers."

Mr Clinton said: "There's still work to do. It can be a new beginning if we just do what we ought to do and prove that the heart of America, without race or religion or political party, is greater than our problems."

Former first ladies Barbara and Laura Bush both attended the event, as did former vice-president Dick Cheney, former secretary of state James Baker, Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Lady Gaga gave a surprise performance, and said she would make a US$1 million donation.

Mr Trump did not attend the concert, but praised the effort in a video message released earlier, terming it a "wonderful" and "vital effort".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2017, with the headline 'Five US ex-presidents take part in hurricane relief benefit'. Print Edition | Subscribe