Obama, Clinton and major artists are helping Biden raise a record $25 million for his re-election

(Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

Obama, Clinton and major artists are helping Biden raise a record $25 million for his re-election


March 28, 2024

Former Presidents Obama and Clinton and some big names from the entertainment world teamed up Thursday evening to deliver a rousing hug to President Biden in New York, who raised a record $25 million for his re-election campaign.

The mood at Radio City Music Hall was electric as Obama praised Biden’s willingness to look for common ground and said: That’s the kind of president I want. Clinton said simply about the choices facing voters in 2024: Stick with what works.”

Biden addressed Donald Trump directly, saying his expected Republican rival’s ideas were a bit old and out of shape.

Moderator Stephen Colbert called them champion speakers in an armchair chat with the trio, jokingly noting that the three presidents had come to town and not one of them would appear in court here, a dig at Trump’s many legal troubles.

The dazzling fundraiser was a major show of Democratic support for Biden at a time of persistently low polling. The president will test the power of his campaign money as he faces Trump, who proved with his 2016 victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton that he didn’t need to raise the most money to win.

During the nearly hour-long conversation, Obama and Clinton explained how tough Biden’s job is. They spoke of loneliness and frustration with policies that work but are not immediately felt by the public. They provided an insider’s view of the office as they tried to explain why Biden was the best candidate for the job.

It’s a lonely seat, said Obama, who hitched a ride to New York with Biden on Air Force One.

The conversation was alternately humorous and serious, ending with all three donning sunglasses in the mostly dark music hall, a nod to the signature Ray-Ban sunglasses that Biden often wears.

The sold-out Radio City Music Hall event was a gilded exclamation point on a recent flurry of campaign travel by Biden, who has visited several political battlegrounds in the three weeks since his State of the Union address, which supporters saw as a rallying cry for his re-election. Thursday’s event also brought together more than three decades of Democratic leadership.

The music hall’s marquee advertised the big-dollar evening as An Evening with Joe Biden Barack Obama Bill Clinton. NYPD officers lined the surrounding streets as part of a heavy security presence.

Protesters angry about Biden’s handling of the Gaza war and strong support for Israel briefly disrupted the show, drawing a pledge from Biden to continue working to stop civilian deaths, especially of children. But he added that Israel’s survival is at stake. Hundreds of others protested outside in the drizzling rain, many demanding a ceasefire and waving Palestinian flags.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) rose first to warm up the crowd of about 5,000 supporters. Entertainers also lined up to support Biden. Lizzo performed her hit About Damn Time, and host Mindy Kaling joked that it was fun to be in a room with so many rich people, adding that she loved that they supported a president who openly promises to raise your taxes.

Obama laid out the choice for the audience, saying that “ultimately you have to make a choice about who you see and who cares about you. I’m pretty sure the other person doesn’t.”

At one point, Colbert said he suspected some Americans had forgotten some of the most troubling aspects of Trump’s presidency, including Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol in a failed attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election to undo. results.results.

Biden said concerns about the riot were reverberating beyond the US, with foreign leaders questioning the stability of American democracy. That democracy is still fragile, he said.

The fundraiser had different levels of access depending on the size of the donation. Other celebrities participating included Queen Latifah, Ben Platt, Cynthia Erivo and Lea Michele. Tickets start at $225.

Donors could pay more for more intimate time with the presidents. A photo with all three cost $100,000. A donation of $250,000 gave donors access to one reception, and $500,000 allowed them to attend a more exclusive gathering. First Lady Jill Biden and DJ D-Nice hosted an afterparty at the music hall with 500 guests, the campaign said.

Obama and Clinton helped Biden expand his already significant cash advantage over Trump. Biden had $155 million in cash on hand through the end of February, compared with $37 million for Trump and his Save America political action committee.

The $25 million total for the New York City event includes money from supporters who handed over cash in the weeks before the fundraiser for a chance to attend. The event alone raised $5 million more than Trump did in February.

This historic increase is a show of great enthusiasm for President Biden and Vice President Harris and a testament to the unprecedented fundraising machine we have built, said movie mogul and campaign co-chair Jeffrey Katzenberg. Unlike our opponent, every dollar raised will reach the voters who will decide this election, making clear the president’s historical record, his vision for the future and the stakes of this election.”

Trump’s campaign expects to raise $33 million next week at a major fundraiser in Palm Beach, Florida, according to a person familiar with the details who spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm a number released for the first time. was reported by the Financial Times.

Trump has kept a low profile in recent weeks, partly because of court appearances for several lawsuits, the bills for which he is paying with money from donors. His next political rallies are scheduled for Tuesday in Michigan and Wisconsin. Some Republican leaders have grown concerned that his campaign does not have the infrastructure for a general election battle with Biden.

Trump was in the New York area on Thursday to attend the vigil on Long Island for a New York City police officer who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Queens.

Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley tried Thursday to frame the whereabouts of the two candidates as a demonstration of a contrast in leadership.

The same day President Trump attended the aftermath of slain New York Police Department officer Jonathan Diller, Joe Biden dined and dined with celebrities at a fundraiser with Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, he said in a statement.

According to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, statistics show that violent crime has increased during Trump’s term, while the Biden administration “has done the opposite by taking decisive action from the very beginning to defund the police and achieve a historic reduction in crime.

The setting was an unusual opportunity for the two former presidents to talk candidly about how they did their jobs and help explain Biden and his presidency.

As the three men closed out the evening by donning Biden’s signature sunglasses, the president joked: Dark Brandon is real, a nod to a meme showing Biden with lasers for eyes.

Long and Megerian wrote for the Associated Press and reported from New York and Washington, respectively. Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in New York and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.


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