Clinton, Bush Agreeable Even as They Disagree
Saturday, May 30, 2009
TORONTO, May 29 -- Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush showed camaraderie in a joint appearance Friday while disagreeing on easing the Cuban trade embargo and allowing same-sex marriages.
The two spoke to about 6,000 people at an event organized by a Toronto-based company that produces motivational and training programs. Bush and Clinton were each paid an undisclosed amount to appear.
They were friendly toward each other, with Bush joking that his mother considers Clinton to be like a son because of the extensive charitable work he has done with his father, former president George H.W. Bush -- whom Clinton defeated in 1992.
George W. Bush, who left office in January, said keeping the embargo on Cuba "is an important thing"; his predecessor said the island nation "ought to be part of the hemisphere." Clinton also called on Congress to give presidents more freedom to manage relations with Cuba.
President Obama last month removed travel limits for Cuban Americans visiting family on the island, restrictions that Bush had toughened. Obama also ended restrictions on how much money Cuban Americans can send relatives there and allowed U.S. telecommunications companies to get licenses to operate there. Leaders of some Latin American countries are pressing him to end the U.S. embargo against Cuba.
Asked about same-sex marriages, Bush defended the "sacred" institution of wedlock between a man and a woman. Clinton said that the more he knows gay people, the more he thinks their relationships "should be up to them."
Clinton told the crowd that Bush "deserves a lot of credit" for having the most diverse Cabinet of any Republican administration and for rallying Christian evangelicals to help fight the spread of AIDS in Africa.