Matt Sayles / Invision/AP
Matt Sayles / Invision/AP

GONAIVES, Haiti (AP) -- Bill Clinton paused during an aid mission to Haiti on Tuesday to honor Michael Jackson for helping the Democratic Party raise cash at a crucial time.

The former U.S. president, now a special U.N. envoy to Haiti, recalled Jackson's performance at a 2002 fundraiser at New York's Apollo theater.

"He basically helped save my party from terrible financial distress, so he was very kind to me personally," Clinton said during a stop on his tour of a still-struggling northern Haiti, where floods killed several hundred people last year.

Clinton, his face bright red under a scorching summertime Caribbean sun, spoke fondly of Jackson, recalling that the singer performed at his first inauguration in 1993. He also said Jackson had struggled with the burden of early fame.

"He was an immensely gifted man and I think he basically meant well," Clinton told The Associated Press. "I know about all the trouble he had in his life and I hope he will be remembered for his contribution as an artist. I hope his children turn out well. That would be the greatest tribute you could have."