“It’s been one of the great honors of my life,” Clinton said as he addressed crowd. “You are living proof that good people committed to creative cooperation have almost unlimited positive impact to help people today and give our kids better tomorrows. Now, I have spent the last 15 years of my life working to advance that idea.”
But Bill Clinton today shied away from engaging in the politics surrounding his foundation and instead used his platform as an attempt to change the negative narrative that has been seen as a liability to his wife’s presidential bid. Clinton proudly recalled trips around the world, partnering with governments, corporations and influential people to deliver HIV/AIDS medication, fight childhood obesity and provide homes for Haitian families following the devastating 2010 earthquake, among countless other initiatives.
“Everybody who comes has to actually make a commitment to do something to make the world a better place. We won’t say there’s a minimum dollar amount, we won’t say there’s a minimum time amount, but they got to do something,” explained the former president. And then he joked, “And I thought we’re about to have a meeting and nobody will come.”
Attendance at the annual meeting has dragged a bit since Hillary Clinton announced her presidential bid, as some donors have tried to keep space between the Clinton Foundation and her run for president. In previous years, President Barack Obama has attended and presidential candidates on both sides have come, but not this year.
But Bill Clinton did not allow the scrutiny to keep him from giving CGI members a charge to continue their work, even if it would be without him.
“Don't give up on what brought you here. You have done something good and noble and worthy and it’s all just beginning,” said the former president. “If we embrace our common humanity over our interesting differences and get up tomorrow in knowing that just if we get caught trying and we do it with somebody else, chances are it will work out better than it ever dreamed. CGI worked out better than I ever dreamed.”
Today’s meeting was the twelfth and final CGI convocation, and Bill Clinton announced last month that he would resign from the board of the Clinton Foundation if Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election.