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STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING
Earthquake Relief and Recovery Efforts
Aired January 17, 2010 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KING: I am John King, and this is STATE OF THE UNION.
KING (voice-over): An up-close look at the earthquake relief and recovery effort from the Obama administration's point men, Lieutenant General P.K. Keen in Haiti, and top State Department official Rajiv Shah, just back from surveying the destruction.
Plus, President Obama promises urgently needed food and medical supplies are on the way.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There is going to be fear, anxiety, a sense of desperation in some cases.
KING: And he calls in two former presidents to help with the long-term challenge of rebuilding one of the world's poorest nations. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush join us to discuss their effort to put Haiti on a path to long-term stability.
GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're a safe. We will make sure money is accounted for and there is transparency and properly spent.
KING: And our "American Dispatch" from Philadelphia. Samuel Dalembert escaped Haiti's hopelessness to become a professional basketball, and now takes a lead role in helping raise money and awareness as his homeland deals with yet another punishing challenge.
This is the STATE OF THE UNION report for Sunday, January 17th.
(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: Under normal circumstances this would be a Sunday spent reflecting on the first year of this historic presidency, and on the very different political climate now compared to when we launched this program a year ago, just hours before Barack Obama took the oath of office. But these are not normal circumstances. And the tone and pacing of our program will be very different today.
There is still an unfolding tragedy in Haiti. Tens of thousands believed to be dead after Tuesday's massive earthquake. Every hour now critical to the thousands more struggling to survive in a nation desperate for food, water, medical supplies, and more.
In a moment, we will assess the crisis with the two men President Obama is enlisting to raise money and awareness for the long haul, former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
But we begin with the immediate humanitarian challenge of saving lives and bringing order to a country where chaos is too often the norm. Rajiv Shah is the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and is just back in Washington after spending Saturday on the front lines in Haiti, and on the ground in Port-au-Prince, the man coordinating the U.S. military's role in the relief and recovery operation, Army General P.K. Keen.
Gentlemen, thank you for joining us this morning, especially given the urgency of the challenge.
General, I want to begin with you on the ground. The goal, of course, is to make every day better than the day before. As you wake up this Sunday morning and start your very busy day, what is your most immediate challenge or top priority today?
KEEN: Well, we had a very good day yesterday. We had paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division, they delivered over 70,000 bottles of water and 130,000 rations. So we're focused on continuing that effort, and as you noted, doing more every day and increasing our capacity to do that. Today we will have two more companies of the 82nd Airborne Division, I have a thousand troops on the ground now dedicated to that effort.
KING: And, General, I'm going to stick with you for one second, because as you know, this is very complicated, it's a bit chaotic, and of course, not everybody is happy. But just this morning there were still some complaints coming in from Doctors Without Borders, for example, and the French government, saying they are trying to get a portable hospital into the airport and they can't get clearance to land. One plane diverted yesterday. They say they have another one coming in today.
Are we getting better at the bottleneck at the airport and what do you make of those complaints?
KEEN: Well, we have got great airmen from our Special Operations Command that are here running this airport. They were here within 24 hours and opened it for 24-hour operations almost immediately. So we are putting a through-put here at maximum capacity, 24 hours a day. It's a matter of balance between getting relief supplies on the ground, getting the people on the ground that are necessary to get those relief supplies distributed, and getting the logistical capability on the ground to continue that, and the vehicles so we can get it out by ground as well as by air.
Right now, we, the U.S. military, is relying principally on aviation off the carrier the USS Carl Vinson to do that. Now obviously the United Nations, who we are coordinating and working side-by-side, have ground assets, and they, in fact, are supporting us with those assets when they can. But they have a tremendous mission because this is a devastating tragedy.
KING: Dr. Shah, you are just back on the ground. The prime minister has said he expects perhaps the death toll will go as high as 200,000. Is there any way to have a ballpark figure from the administration perspective?
SHAH: Well, thank you, John.
And we did have a chance, while in Haiti yesterday, to meet with President Preval and the prime minister and talk about not just the extent of the devastation and estimates of loss, but also about what is the strategy and the effort going forward.
And I do want to start by noting that immediately after this happened, on Tuesday evening, the president -- President Obama asked us to come together as a whole of government and mount a swift and aggressive and coordinated response. And that's what we have been doing.
We have deployed disaster assistance teams. We've deployed urban search and rescue teams. We have nearly 400 trained professional Americans out there doing active search and rescue. And even this morning they were engaged in a specific rescue effort.
So they have been -- they have saved dozens of lives, more than half of those are Haitian lives, as they were committed to do. And they have been coordinating the efforts of thousands of others from around the world in that search and rescue effort.
We've also simultaneously deployed real resources, as the general mentioned, to make sure we get as much commodity flow in Haiti as possible, necessary food, daily rations, water -- in addition to the 70,000 bottles of water, we procured water from the Dominican Republic, trucked that in. We also sent three major water purification and production units that do 100,000 liters of water a day. We have six more of those coming from Dubai and a fourth one that might have gone in this morning.
So we are doing everything we can because that was the instruction of the president. It was deploy assets from across the federal government. Get them in there quickly and do as much as we can to mount an aggressive response.
KING: As you say, deploy as fast as you can. Yet on this day, and that's the question -- this is not a criticism, it's a question of priorities. There are several search and rescue teams sitting at U.S. airports in California, in Ohio, and elsewhere, who have been sitting there for several days waiting for clearance to go. Is that a matter of you have enough on the ground in search and rescue, and as a doctor, this is the hard part of this story, are we at the point now several days out where search and rescue becomes a thing of the past, has the clock has ticked too much and you're more now into relief and recovery?
SHAH: Well, you know, we have 30 teams from around the world on the ground -- approximately 30 teams. Each of those teams is 70-plus individuals. They have dogs and assets and specialized equipment. They work around the clock. And our teams from the U.S. were the first teams to get in. They set up a center that allowed the others to know where to go and to work in a more coordinated way. You know, that -- obviously you can -- you always want more, and we have a number of teams on stand by here in the United States. But we were even told by the Haitian government that -- and we're -- that we need to balance that -- the degree of that versus food and rations that are also about the president's top priority, which is saving lives.
And so we have been doing everything we can to get as many assets on the ground as possible and get them deployed quickly.
KING: I'm going to ask Dr. Shah to get up with me and we will go over to the map to take a closer look.
And as we do, General, let me ask you a question on the ground. As all of these resources come in, U.S. military resources, government resources, NGOs, contributions from private organizations around the world, who is calling the shots in Haiti? Who decides if Doctors Without Borders come in and the Mercy Corps come in and somebody else comes in? Who decides who goes where and what they do?
KEEN: Well, John, as you know, that's a major challenge in any crisis like this, is the coordination of all of it. We have established, along with the United Nations, that the agreement with Secretary Clinton and President Preval to establish a humanitarian coordination center. It is up and running. We had already worked at the tactical and operational level between us and the United Nations force commander, Brigadier General Floriano Peixoto from Brazil, to do that as best we could.
But we are going to stand that up and that is where we are going to coordinate and synchronize all of these efforts to insure that we are putting what we need on the point of the ground, where it's needed as quickly as possible using all assets available within the country.
KING: I'm going to use the map here. I know, General, you can't see this, but I will explain what I am doing.
And, Dr. Shah, I just want to go in and take a closer look at some of the roads inside Haiti here as this plays out, because one of the big challenges is when you have the damage, the country is not all that developed to begin with, and you have the damage that goes in a lot of these buildings, this is a -- using Google Earth and satellite imagery, the red circles are roads that in the immediate aftermath were completely blocked.
A lot of the buildings collapsing in the street. The yellow means they're partially obstructed. And you have the airport up in the north which is where the general is out here. And you have down into here into Port-au-Prince.
Is there enough heavy equipment -- to you, Dr. Shah, first, and then to the general, the bulldozers, the earth-movers, other things, are these roads now cleared or is this still a problem on the ground in terms of delivering aid?
SHAH: Well, there has been some clearance of certain roads, and there is a lot more heavy equipment coming from the U.S. military on U.S. military assets over the course of the next week or two. So the effort to clear transport routes, especially when you look at secondary roads, is an incredible challenge, will require a lot of equipment. And, of course, that will have to come in from the United States, and from other countries.
It is -- I am glad you are doing this, because it points out that, you know, the airport initially suffered a real hit. And that's one of the unique points of this tragedy.
KING: ... and this is where the general is right now, right?
SHAH: Absolutely. The air-traffic control tower was down, and so it was essentially not effectively operable until we were able to work in partnership with the Haitian government and help upgrade its throughput and its capacity and manage its operations. In addition, we're working to clear transit routes and using the helicopters on the aircraft carrier to make sure we distribute commodities despite the fact that many of the roads are not passable. So that's why it's so important for us to have the whole of government response where we are using assets and capabilities from across our government as the president has directed us to do.
KING: And I want to show, and General, go to you as I do -- and again, I know you can't see this -- but I want to show our viewers, this is what the port looked like before -- this is the port just off downtown Port-au-Prince. This is what it looked like before the earthquake hit. And I want to use now satellite imagery to show you the devastation. I want you to notice, up here to our viewers, there is a crane right here on the port. You see the ships docking on the long dock. Now look at how this has played out as you bring this out. Get this to turn on for me, and it will work -- we'll get it to work. We've zoomed away. Let me come back in and pull that out. And if you look now, if you had the before and after, it is stunning. It's completely destroyed. And again, I want to go back so that our viewers can see the difference. A full port there before the earthquake. And now this.
General, is there any chance in the short term that you can use this port, that you can make the necessary repairs to make it functional, or is that out of commission for you as you deal with this urgent challenge?
KEEN: Well, it's currently out of commission. But we are already moving in the direction to get ports over. I have a navy rear admiral on the ground who is going to be responsible for looking at all the ports and getting them open as soon as possible or getting things moved in this direction in order to address that tremendous challenge. We have got a couple of critical things. One of them is fuel. And as you note there, one of those ports, it's the only point where we bring -- for the country, bring fuel in, so we need to get that port up and operational so we can get the fuel supplies flowing. And this admiral is taking on the challenge, working in support of the government of Haiti, along with the United Nations, to get the assessments complete so we have the right assets coming this way to address that challenge.
KING: We are going to take a break. We'll be back in just a moment with Dr. Shah here in Washington, General Keen on the ground in Haiti. More on the urgent humanitarian challenge in Haiti. We will also discuss what you watching at home maybe can do to help. We'll be right back. Thank you.
KING: We're back with Army Lieutenant General P.K. Keen in Port- au-Prince, Haiti, and here in Washington, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, who was in Haiti just yesterday. General, to you first, and please correct me because I know this is a changing situation, so if my numbers are wrong, please correct them. But my understanding is you have roughly 10,000 U.S. military personnel who have been deployed so far. Is that what you need, or will you need more in the days ahead? And again, I know it's a hard question to answer today, but how long, how long will there be U.S. military assets on the ground in Haiti?
KEEN: Well, first, we are going to be here as long as we are needed. What I have on the ground right now is 1,000 -- approximately 1,000 military personnel. I have more coming today. Two more companies out of the 82nd Airborne Division. In the coming days, I will have Marines coming up of (inaudible), and then we have a Marine landing battalion which will have some critical enablers to clear roads, as you mentioned earlier. And so that will be a welcome addition to the team here. And then offshore, with supporting us from the carrier and other navel vessels, we have got over -- about 3,600. So we are building up capacity every day and getting what we need in order to accomplish the mission.
KING: And, General, reports in the last 48 hours of more looting, some gang violence. Some of this to be expected, of course, as sad as it is. How much is the security problem a nuisance, and how much of it is a genuine threat to what you are trying to do, which is to save lives?
KEEN: Well, security is an essential component of being able to accomplish our humanitarian assistance mission. So we are doing everything we can -- overall security within Haiti is being -- is under the responsibility of the United Nations forces. We're working alongside them. But as you note, the police that was providing security at various locations around the city of Port-au-Prince was devastated by the hurricane (sic) as well, so security is a concern. We are paying very close attention to it. But yesterday, we had troopers from the 82nd Airborne Division out and about delivering those supplies I mentioned earlier. They had no issues with security. In fact, they were very warmly received at every point they went to distribute supplies. It was very orderly and obviously very welcome.
So there are isolated incidents, but it is a concern and we are going to have to address it and we are going to have to provide a safe and secure environment in order to be successful with our humanitarian assistance mission.
KING: I am going to get up and go back to the wall in a second to show you the international outpouring of support. As I do, and as I walk over, I just want your perspective. You can look at the numbers, you can look at the pictures on television, but you made the trip yesterday with Secretary Clinton. Just as I walk over, just reflect for our viewers what jumped out the most at you in terms of what you saw.
SHAH: Well, yesterday, what was really most significant was just the absolutely commitment and resilience of the Haitian people. And we have a number of Haitian nationals on our staff at USAID, and in Haiti. Many of them have lost family members and have had their homes destroyed, and yet they come in to help solve this problem and serve their country. And with that kind of commitment, you know, it highlights what the president has noted, President Obama has said this is an opportunity and a chance to demonstrate our common humanity. And that's why we are mobilizing really all of the resources we can across our government to make sure we do that, and do that swiftly and effectively.
KING: And I want to -- I want to come back in here. I just want to show something as we do. I want to pop on this and just show what the world has done, just almost at the one-week point.
And as this plays out -- you see the map here, and I just want to show -- these are the international contributions so far. People watch the lines come in as it plays out -- let me make it move, here -- and you see the lines coming in from around the world. These are all translated into U.S. dollars -- $100 million in the United States, and you see the other governments around the world.
And, Dr. Shah, as these numbers fill in -- and I'll also pop up here -- as well as some of the other organizations, the World Bank, private corporations, the Red Cross, the United Nations, do you have any sense, at this early date -- this is obviously the initial investment -- of how much this is going to cost U.S. taxpayers? The president has committed $100 million so far. But any sense of the financial scope of what you're dealing with here?
SHAH: Well, it's significant. And the president, when he noted that we're making a $100 million commitment -- when he made that commitment, also noted that we will do whatever it takes to mount an aggressive response and to serve the people of Haiti effectively. And so that's -- that's what we're doing.
You know, yesterday, I was just struck by the partnership that exists between our government and the government of Haiti. We met with president Preval. He thanked President Obama for his strong and singular commitment to this. We talked about what's coming. We have a number of assets, like the USNS Comfort Navy Hospital ship that will arrive on the 20th, the USS Jack Lummus and other amphibious capabilities that will allow us to -- you showed us the port -- allow us to get other points of entry and distribution.
And we're building in Haiti a larger -- and this is with the government of Haiti and with partners like the World Food Program -- a larger network of distribution sites so that we can effectively get these commodities out to Haitian people as soon as possible. So our goal and our metric of success is really to do more every single day, and exponentially more in terms of the delivery of services, the delivery of commodities.
And especially as we open up these other routes; as we get greater military capabilities and transport and logistical capabilities, and as we secure a real partnership and cooperative working relationship with the range of partners that you just highlighted, we're confident that this can succeed and we're confident that the Haiti that emerges from this can be -- can be strong and significant.
KING: We want to thank you for your time, Dr. Shah, here in Washington, General Keen on the ground in Haiti. We understand how busy both of you are, and also that you're operating -- both of you operating on zero or very little sleep. We appreciate your time, understanding today, and we wish you, certainly, Godspeed and the best in the days and weeks ahead. Thank you both for coming in.
And Haiti is getting some much-needed assistance from two of President Obama's predecessors. We'll hear from former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton about their mission to help the devastated nation and try to put it on a new path, next.
KING: More than any words, it is the images -- the images from Haiti that convey the sadness and the horror and the depth of the challenge ahead.
And this rare image in Washington speaks volumes, too. Take a look there. President Obama and his two immediate predecessors emerging from the Oval Office and walking into the Rose Garden on Saturday.
The current president knows he needs all the help he can get and is asking two former presidents to spearhead a fund-raising effort and help Haiti on its path to long-term recovery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Here at home, Presidents Bush and Clinton will help the American people to do their part, because responding to a disaster must be the work of all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Just moments after that announcement and their return to the White House, I sat down with the two former presidents in the map room to discuss their joint challenge.
KING: President Clinton and President Bush, thank you for joining me. I want to ask the simple question I think many people will ask, is how do you define success, in that, if you are wildly successful and you restore Haiti to where it was one week ago today, we're still talking about a country where 80 percent of the people live in poverty, nearly 60 percent in abject poverty -- that's a dollar a -- with a dysfunctional government that many people think can't deliver the most basic services. What is success? BUSH: Well, for me, success is helping save lives in the short term, and then we can worry about the long term after the situation has been stabilized. But I think it's a legitimate question. You know, do we want to put money into a society that hasn't benefited after we've stabilized?
The answer is I think we do, just so long as we work with the government to develop a strategy that makes sense. To say the country can't succeed is too defeatist as far as I'm concerned.
CLINTON: Yes, and let me remind you that it's true that they were in bad shape before the earthquake hit.
It's also true that everybody who's seriously followed Haiti over a long period of time believed that Haiti had the best chance it has had in our lifetime to break the chains of its past, to build a truly modern state, to have a more thriving economy, an honest and competent government, better health care, better education, more self-generated clean energy, the whole nine yards.
They have an economic plan. We're going to have to amend it now and substantially take account of the damage done, but I would define success as setting up a network quickly to get the food, water, medicine, security, and information people need, and then, as quickly as possible, resuming the path they were on before the earthquake to build a strong, modern country.
I think they can do it. I agree with you. I won't feel successful if all we do is get them back to where they were the day before the earthquake.
KING: When you talk about the short-term challenges, there's a shortage of doctors right now. There's obviously a shortage of food and supplies and the like.
Do you view that as our role -- yours might a little different because you're a U.N. role. But do you get involved in checking in on that, or is your job not too many cooks in the kitchen and just to raise the money and make sure it gets there?
BUSH: I think the primary job to get food, medicine, water to people would be our United States military and other organizations on the ground. Our job is to set up a fund to make sure that the compassion is still existent once the crisis gets off TV and to make sure people's money is wisely spent.
CLINTON: The best thing we did -- I did with former President Bush in the tsunami -- we actually didn't raise a massive amount of money in our fund. What we did was try to raise the overall level of giving and have a fund big enough that we could pick projects that would shine the light on what worked, what would be really good, what would be good for other people to spend their money on. And it really helped that area to build back better.
I think that's the answer to your first question. Those areas where we worked are in better shape today than they were before the tsunami. That can be done here.
KING: And about a billion dollars is credited to that fund- raising effort, your effort with President Bush's father, President H.W. Bush.
CLINTON: The American people would have given a lot of money...
KING: Any idea in the early days here what this will take?
BUSH: It's hard to tell.
BUSH: I mean, you know, it's -- John, obviously -- and you know this better than anybody -- that the first call is to save the lives. And that's what the American people want to see happen. This situation will stabilize, and when it stabilizes, that's when you begin to think about how to effectively encourage Haiti's economy to grow and the infrastructure to be developed in a way that makes sense.
CLINTON: I agree with that. Give us a couple of weeks on this.
KING: The initial outpouring has been phenomenal.
KING: From the American people and from governments around the world. But both of you made a point, and President Obama made a point of emphasizing, you know, keep a good eye on it. This will be money well spent.
As you both well know from your service here and from your time out of government, there's rising skepticism -- mistrust of institutions, mistrust of government, they can't get anything right.
And some of that, Mr. President, some people would say would stem from you suffered a political scar when people were pointing fingers after Katrina. Some blamed the mayor. Some blamed the governor. Some blamed the president in Washington.
Did you give this president any advice on how to...
(CROSSTALK) BUSH: No. That's just part of the thing. I mean, people love to point fingers. But what people should focus on in Katrina is the -- how the American people responded to help a neighbor in need. And same situation here. And whether it be the tsunami or whether the earthquake in Pakistan or the tornadoes that hit during my presidency, there was always an outpouring of support. And all I want to do and Bill wants to do is to be a part, to lend our hand.
One of the thing I am concerned about is that on these -- during these crises, all kinds of fake charities spring up, that, you know, take advantage of people's goodwill, and we're a safe haven. We will make sure that the money is accounted for, that there's transparency, and properly spent.
KING: Another thing that some are worried about happening -- you mentioned the scams, and we'll keep an eye on those. But it's those who do have an infrastructure, and you know the ground in Haiti very well. Beyond the United Nations, are largely faith-based organizations, church groups that have done it for years and they're trying to help. How do you make sure those with that kind of an infrastructure and network, goodwill on the ground, don't get rolled over when people of all good intentions, mind you, just come running in?
CLINTON: Well, one of the -- it's so interesting you ask me this, because the last thing I did last night before I went to bed was to figure out how to allocate the first couple of million dollars that came into the fund I set up for the U.N. when the U.N. mission in Haiti went down. And we had -- we had made up our mind, we had to give it in a hurry, but to people who are already there. I don't think we should -- first, I'm certainly not prejudiced against faith- based groups. They're making a great difference. And, secondly, I think they should get -- the people that have been there and are working and know the ground, they ought to get preference in donations.
One of the things we can do at our website, in addition to collecting money and spending it right, is to give people information about that, if they want to know. And now, more and more people are volunteering to help. We get about 300 e-mails a days, just in my Harlem office, for people who say, OK, I can't do what you need now, but when you start rebuilding, we want to do this. And I'm going to try to hook them in as much as possible into the existing networks, and I think it's important.
BUSH: Yes, let me tell you what I think about the faith-based community. They're going to be there a lot longer than a lot of other folks will be. They were there before the crisis, and they'll be there long after the attention has shifted somewhere else.
And I don't know what you mean by rolling over them, but I do know that they're motivated by their -- by the right reason, and that is to love a neighbor like they'd like to be loved themselves. I don't think you have to worry about the faith communities' interest and/or ability to get the job done.
KING: You both lived in this house for eight years, at a time of pretty polarized politics in our country, and you both have lived that. And even in the days right after this, we see some voices injecting politics.
One is a radio host, Rush Limbaugh, who said, this is -- the Obama White House will, quote, "use this to burnish their, shall we say, credibility with the black community and both the light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country."
And then, on the left, you had a TV commentator, anchor have a picture of the destruction in Haiti up and he said, "We are reminded of what health care reform really (ph) means."
As two guys who lived it as president and now who watch it as private citizens, what do you make of the politics of this moment?
BUSH: We should keep politics out of Haiti.
KING: Are those comments appropriate?
BUSH: There's going to be a lot of comment. You can find comments all over the place.
My focus is on helping the desperate people down there, and a lot of Americans feel the same way, and they are. And I appreciate their help.
CLINTON: I think when -- when people see us together -- look, they know we have differences, even though we're friends, and what I -- the only political thing I hope that comes out of this is that people keep their differences of conviction, but they treat their neighbors as friends. Because the American people are coming out of this and giving to these people from Haiti. They're aching, and all these people are dying, all these little kids that are orphans.
We don't want to contribute to this political debate now. But I hope that it will humanize us all in every aspect of our lives.
KING: Well -- well, let me close on that. You mentioned this is a bit of an odd relationship.
BUSH: He didn't say odd. Did he say it's an odd relationship? Just because my brother calls him my stepbrother, my mother calls him my stepbrother...
KING: How did this come about? And you're back in this building with the current president of the United States. You've both dealt with all the challenges.
I'm just wondering what it's like to walk back through these halls. And any words you have for him as he hits the one mark in his administration. You both have been through that first year where you learn that governing's a lot different from campaigning. I'm just wondering at this moment what was shared in -- the president in the Rose Garden called it, "in the back room."
BUSH: He just briefed us on what they're doing. And it was -- it was -- it was good to walk back through here. It's interesting. I frankly don't miss the limelight. I'm glad to help out, but there's life after the presidency is what I've learned, and I'm going to live the fullest, and this is part of living it to the fullest, to help other people.
CLINTON: You know, I think that once you've been president, you shouldn't gratuitously offer any advice to your successor. If somebody asks you what you think, you tell them. Otherwise, you just show up when you're asked to help.
Look, we had the greatest honor the American people can give, and I think both of us feel a sense of profound gratitude. But President Obama is a gifted man with good people working for him. He's working hard. And I -- you know, I wish him well. Obviously, I support him, and I think he had extraordinary taste in his secretary of state.
But this is not...
BUSH: But (ph) not (ph) her husband.
CLINTON: Yes. That's it. But this is -- it's not our role. He's -- he's got a hard enough job without everybody else trying to, you know, give him advice. And I will say this, and I think George agrees with me. He has been great on it.
I mean, from the get go, this whole government was organized and mobilized, from the military to the State Department to that fine young director of AID, Rajiv Shah, who's coordinating all the civilian efforts. They're doing a good job.
KING: It's great to see you both. And on this front -- we don't usually say this to politicians, but if there's anything we can do to help you in your work, I extend my hand.
CLINTON: Thank you. Well, you've been great. This coverage, you've done -- you made this come alive for the American people. You put us in the skin of the Haitian people, and I'm personally very grateful.
KING: Thank you both. Great to see you.
KING: Up next, CNN has unmatched resources on the ground in Haiti, watching as this desperate story unfolds. Among the team, our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He joins us next.
KING: We are blessed at CNN to have an amazing team on the ground in Haiti taking great risk to cover this story. Among them our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who joins us from Port- au-Prince. And, Sanjay, I want to walk through this with you. Let me just begin by asking you, as our viewers see behind you, the tents in the open space, the park behind you, where are you?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are in downtown Port-au-Prince. And this area behind me, sort of this plaza has become a place where a lot of residents have gathered. People who certainly have lost their homes. But a lot of people also concerned that even though their homes are still up, there have still been aftershocks, even last night.
They don't want to be there. They are concerned about their safety, so they congregate here, sometimes by the hundreds at night. They sleep there. Just over the last couple of days, they've -- we have seen some improvements in terms of fire trucks actually coming around, starting to hand out water, a couple of food trucks as well, although the water has been more common than the food.
But that's a little bit of a glimpse. And little sites like this are cropping all over Port-au-Prince.
KING: And you just hit on one of the key questions. This is so complicated. Is there enough food, enough medicine, enough supplies? On the simple -- I guess I'll ask the question as simply as I can, is today better than yesterday when you look around in terms of getting supplies to people, getting medical help to people, and providing security for people?
GUPTA: Today is better than yesterday for two reasons as far as I can tell medically. And there is shouting that's going on right behind me. This happens all the time. But for two reasons. One is that there are more supplies now than there were yesterday. And -- which was better than the day before.
The other thing that is very important from a medical standpoint is that every crisis, every natural disaster is a little bit different. Now they have the different personalities. This is a crisis that is really defined by crush injuries, orthopedic injuries, and people are seeing a lot of that. And doctors and health care teams on the ground are able to tell me and tell other people, look, we need plaster, we need casts, we need really specific things, orthopedic equipment.
So instead of sending, you know, certain supplies over and over again, send us some things that we're really seeing that we need.
I can tell you, you have to sort of approach it from this frame of mind here, John, that once a patient is treated in one of these field hospitals or even a standing hospital, that ultimately they are not going to be seen again. You don't get follow-up care. So they have to be able to give the definitive treatment.
Put that leg in a cast, make sure the person can walk in some way, because if they can't, there is just simply no way they are going to be able to survive. Definitive care from the beginning, making sure they have the supplies to do that, that's the key, John. KING: And, Sanjay, you are talking about urgent care, immediate care today, but you also had the opportunity yesterday, Secretary of State Clinton was in Haiti, you had the chance to interview her. And she sounded much like the two former presidents I just interviewed, President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. And they talked about the immediate challenge, but also the long-term challenge in the country that even before the earthquake was the poorest in the hemisphere.
Let's listen to a little bit of what Secretary Clinton when you asked her, is the goal ultimately to make Haiti better than it was before the quake?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We do have an opportunity now with the unfortunate destruction that existed to take the lead of the Haitian government to try to bring in the international community so that we are not just, you know, taking a building that is half demolished and trying to patch it together, but thinking about what should this whole street look like, what should this neighborhood look like. And that, of course, is what the Haitians are asking the international community to help them do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: To help them do, Sanjay. It sounds like -- and nobody likes this word in politics, but it sounds like nation-building.
GUPTA: Yes, in some ways. I mean, this -- I started off asking her why is Haiti so poor? Why is it the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, 80 percent? Why does it have one of the lowest physician-to-patient relationships, and physician-to-patient ratios in the world? And she addressed those questions.
But you are right, you know, there is no question, and she did not disguise this at all, her and former President Clinton have a great affinity for Haiti. They even, I think, honeymooned here after they got married. But she did believe that some of those just awful measures of health success -- global health success can be improved with all of this.
She did not use the term nation-building, but it started at such a low point. Basic health care, so hard to get even without an earthquake. Anything, almost, John, would be better than it was.
KING: Let me close with a personal question. You respond to tragedies around the world. You have been to Iraq and Afghanistan. You deploy as a journalist to cover the stories for us at CNN, but you also often either get asked or you put yourself in, you volunteer to take a humanitarian role to help save lives and to help people deal with their medical issues.
How do you personally deal with the balance between journalist and doctor? GUPTA: Well, you know, John, you and I have known each other for a long time and you know that I have been a doctor for a far longer time than I've been a journalist. I am a doctor first. There is no question about that. A lot of what I am doing, which you'll never see, because we're not taking cameras with us, is trying to help out because there is a tremendous urgent need down here, and I happen to have a skill set that can be of use, can be helpful to some people, particularly with head injuries and things like that.
So, you know, the conflict that some people have, sort balancing between medicine and media, really is not a conflict for me. I am a doctor first. And I am very comfortable with that.
KING: Amen for that. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent, part of our remarkable team on the ground in Haiti. Sanjay, stay -- keep safe, excuse me, and keep doing exactly what you're doing, helping people when you can as well as helping tell these stories. Dr. Gupta, thank you very much.
And up next, we head to Philadelphia, where for one NBA player, the tragedy in Haiti literally hits home.
KING: The outpouring of support from people across the country and, indeed, around the world for the people of Haiti is truly remarkable. And for some, it is very personal.
Among those making major contributions are professional sports leagues and organizations associated with high-profile athletes. Let's take a closer look. Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the NFL have each committed $1 million to the effort.
The New York Yankees themselves, $500,000. Lance Armstrong's LAF Foundation, $250,000. And the National Hockey League, $100,000.
Some athletes, for this, it's a personal mission. Samuel Dalembert is a center. He is number one -- you see him in the video there -- for the Philadelphia 76ers. He for years has been involved with UNICEF, trying to help Haiti's children find a path out of poverty.
In our "American Dispatch" this week, we traveled to Philadelphia to get Dalembert's perspective on the tragedy and a closer look at one man's effort to make a difference back home.
(UNKNOWN): He's phenomenal. You know, he's one of those guys that's young, and he's dynamic, and he has truly got a heart of gold when it comes to helping children.
DALEMBERT: I know at a time like this, things are tough in our own home, but you find a good heart to help us out, thank you so much.
I feel helpless here. And the people over there under the bricks have been waiting for help for a day. You know, and how much -- you know, how much more? You know, so even if you do get yourself to safety -- and it's not guaranteed -- so many people. It's frustrating.
(UNKNOWN): We've been in Haiti since 1949, as a matter of fact. It's one of the things that's unique about UNICEF. He's been with us to Haiti before -- long before this tragedy. And he has continued to be there for us. And tonight, he's going to be there again for us.
DALEMBERT: And together we can make a change, and together we can rebuild this place and make it a better place for our kids. You know, hopefully there'll be more hospital or food. There'll be better security. You know, hopefully we can go and visit our country without fear.
KING: So you've spoken to your father...
KING: ... and others. What do they say the immediate needs are now, when they look around and they say, "We need what"?
DALEMBERT: My dad -- my dad said medical supplies. He said that's the first thing that, you know, people are needing over there.
KING: And are they encouraged by what they see so far? Are they frustrated? Do they think the response has been as good as it can be?
DALEMBERT: We still more help, but we're also grateful for what -- you know, for what help has been so far.
(UNKNOWN): It'll be a good number of days until we really have a full extent of what's coming in and what needs to be done. We know it's going to take a long time. You know, if you look at our own country, industrialized nation, roads, hospitals, police force, military, government, when Katrina hit and look how long it took.
KING: In the first few days, sometimes you're so desperate in dealing with finding loved ones and your immediate needs you don't really get a sense of the context of the destruction. What is the sense now when you talk to them about -- what do they say about neighborhoods gone? And how do they describe...
DALEMBERT: I mean, I was looking at the TV a couple days ago, a few days ago. I was looking at the buildings that I used to, you know, pass by, you know, when I'm going to school. You know, all of them destroyed. You know, and -- you know, it's like flat land.
KING: Do you worry that in weeks and months and a year or two that Haiti will be forgotten again, that people -- there's been a remarkable outpouring of support in these early days, but that attention will move to something else, and down the rode it will be forgotten?
DALEMBERT: We have to maximize on what we can right now, because after everything's stabilized, everybody gets help -- help, what -- what are we going to do now? You know, right now it's really tough, but it's going to be even tougher in the next six months, because, you know, there has to be a plan. You know, there has to be a plan in place to be able to know what we're going to do for the next -- after we get everything under control, what we're going to do for these people.
(UNKNOWN): He's going to present us with a $100,000 check tonight. He has pledged to match contributions made in the arena.
DALEMBERT: And I know in the bad time, you know, right now everybody has their own problems. That's something we know. The economy dropped (inaudible) but, you know, I really greatly appreciate -- and my country, myself, we appreciate that everybody -- what everybody is doing. And we see that -- you know, people might feel like, OK, what -- what $2, what $1 is going to do, what's $5 going to do? Believe me, that makes a huge difference.
(UNKNOWN): It doesn't take a lot of money. It will ultimately take a lot of money, but a little money will help. Oral rehydration salts, 7 cents. You know, water purification tablets, 60 cents. A blanket for a child, $3.
DALEMBERT: I want to tell people out there, you know, all the, you know, Haitian people, you know, keep their head up. And, you know, let's pray. We've been through a lot, you know, keep going through a lot. It seems like it's a test which we're going through. And I think they're -- they are good. God has good for us for the future.
KING: Samuel Dalembert there and UNICEF, one person and one organization. To learn more about what you can do to help the victims in Haiti, go to cnn.com/impactyourworld.
We want to say goodbye to our international audience for this hour, but up next, for viewers here in the United States, Howard Kurtz and his "Reliable Sources" look at how each network scrambled to cover this massive earthquake.
KING: I'm John King, and this is "State of the Union."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING (voice-over): Devastating earthquake makes Haiti ground zero for the media. What are the challenges for reporters covering the large-scale tragedy?
Plus, Conan versus Jay. Can NBC resolve the public battle between the talk show comics?
In this hour of "State of the Union," Howard Kurtz, as always, breaks it down with his "Reliable Sources."