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Haitian earthquake relief: Obama taps Bush, Clinton for help

President Obama is roping in former Presidents George W. Bush and Clinton to help coordinate Haitian earthquake relief efforts. It's a gesture that makes Obama look bipartisan and gives Bush a chance to start shaping his post-presidential legacy.

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Earthquake survivors wave to a helicopter flying over Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday.

Francois Mori/AP

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Maybe President Obama is doing former President George W. Bush a favor.

Mr. Obama plans to announce that his immediate predecessor will team up with former President Clinton to help on humanitarian relief efforts and fund-raising for Haiti. Obama called Mr. Bush Wednesday night, and he accepted, according to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

For both ex-presidents, the role seems logical. Mr. Clinton was already the UN special envoy for Haiti when a massive earthquake struck Tuesday. And he served in a similar capacity along with the first President Bush five years ago after the Asian tsunami – at the behest of the 43rd president, the second Bush.

The junior Bush had signaled a year ago, as he was leaving office, that he would serve if asked. But there’s an awkward aspect to Bush’s new assignment.

“The thing about ‘43’ is that of course he was the acrimonious target of the Democrats who replaced him, and was perceived as discredited, and now he’s being offered a little bit of redemption by those former opponents,” says Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. “That makes this interesting.”

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