Mon, Oct 23, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Ex-presidents take stage at hurricane benefit in US


From left, former US presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton attend a hurricane relief benefit concert in College Station, Texas, on Saturday night.

Photo: AFP

All five of the US’ living former presidents on Saturday took the stage at a benefit concert in Texas to raise money for victims of the hurricane-ravaged southern US and Caribbean.

Former US presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter appeared together onstage at Texas A&M, 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 from 80,000 donors for the victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, George H.W. Bush’s office said.

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

“Let’s all work together and make America still a greater volunteer nation,” said Carter, making an apparent play on US President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.

He said that Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit he has worked with for 36 years, would build 6,000 homes in hard-hit areas.

“I too am here to urge you to give to this fine fund and I want to thank all the volunteers,” the younger Bush said.

“There’s still work to do,” Clinton said. “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.”

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

Lady Gaga gave a surprise performance at the concert, announcing that she would make a US$1 million donation and that a “mental health and emotional trauma surviving program” would be set up for hurricane survivors.

Lee Greenwood opened the concert and served as master of ceremonies for the event, the ticket-sale receipts of which were to benefit organizations in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

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