Five former US Presidents will be attending a concert on Saturday night in a Texas college town, to raise money for relief efforts after devastation by a hurricane in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, a media report said.
Democrats Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and Republicans George H.W. and George W. Bush are putting aside politics for the concert being held at Texas A&M University’s Reed Arena in College Station, home to the presidential library of the elder Bush.
The move is in contrast to President Donald Trump, who has vowed to help Texas and Florida for as long as it takes but has criticized Puerto Rican leaders while suggesting aid there won’t be unlimited. Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, which made landfall after Harvey and Irma had battered other areas, ABC News reported.
George H.W. Bush spokesman Jim McGrath said all five of Saturday night’s attendees haven’t been together since the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas in 2013, when Obama was still in office. He didn’t answer a question about whether Trump was formally invited.
The concert features the country music band Alabama, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer ‘Soul Man’ Sam Moore, gospel legend Yolanda Adams and Texas musicians Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.
The elder Bush, at 93, has a form of Parkinson’s disease and uses a motorized scooter or a wheelchair for mobility.
George W. Bush was Texas governor before leaving for the White House and now lives in Dallas.
There is precedent for former presidents joining forces for post-disaster fundraising. George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton raised money together after the 2004 South Asia tsunami and Hurricane Katrina the next year. Clinton and George W. Bush combined to seek donations after Haiti’s 2011 earthquake.
Amid criticism that his administration was initially slow to aid storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, Trump accused island leaders of “poor leadership,” and later tweeted that, “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes” while saying that Federal Emergency Management Agency, first-responders and military personnel wouldn’t be able to stay there forever.
Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas’ Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane on August 25, eventually unleashing historic flooding in Houston and killing more than 80 people. Shortly thereafter, all five ex-presidents appeared in a commercial for a fundraising effort known as “One America Appeal.”
A website accepting donations, OneAmericaAppeal.org, was created with 100 per cent of proceeds pledged to hurricane relief.
Hurricane Irma subsequently hit Florida and Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico. Both affected the US Virgin Islands.