Obama Speaks - Matt Damon, Ashton Kutcher in the house
A well-coiffed Bill Clinton opened the 5th Clinton Global Initiative.
He noted that with the economic crisis there was a possibility of throwing a party with no one showing up, but in fact more leaders are attending this year than any previous CGI.
Bill Clinton brings on Matt Damon and Gary White with water.org to announce a new commitment to provide clean water in Haiti - to cover 50,000 people over 3 years.
Giving Back Circle
CGI brings performance onto the stage with three students from Kenya. The students give a verbal accounting of how the program has affected their lives.
Clinton now brings on the panel including:
- Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of Coke
- Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile
- Kevin Rudd, PM of Australia
- Mike Duke, President and CEO, Wal-mart
Kevin Rudd argued for the expansion of the G8 to the G20. The expansion brings in the emerging markets and will provide a more effective platform to address global crisis.
Muthar Kent noted that Coke is the first large company to commit to water neutrality by 2020. They use 300 billion liters of water every year and they commit to return a equal amount to the earth every year.
President Obama takes the stage.
He first thanks Bill Clinton and teases him that he could not say no to Bill Clinton - not with his intense stare and charm.
Obama notes that his mother was the first to give him a role model of service.
He then saw change happen in Chicago. "Real progress does not come top down...it comes from the bottom up"
"I have seen the spirit of service in my wife Michelle"
"That is the spirit that is represented here tonight. The greenhouse gasses you have cut, the entrepreneurs you have inspired."
"Creative collaborations. It is the spirit that guides this organization and it is the spirit that I hope guides my administration.
Than you for your vision, your engagment..."
The President gave a teleprompter speech. He started out with some good ad lib material, but then got into orator mode. This audience was looking for something more intimate. The President could have enlisted them in a more direct manner in his cause.
In any case, Obama's presence was a great validation of CGI and helped set the tone for the gathering - collaboration and commitment are needed now more than ever.