UNITED STATES NEWS

Obama, Clinton and big-name entertainers help Biden raise a record $26 million for his reelection

Mar 27, 2024, 9:03 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2024, 8:58 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and some big names from the entertainment world teamed up Thursday night to deliver a rousing New York embrace of President Joe Biden that hauled in a record-setting $26 million-plus for his reelection 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 of the choices facing voters in 2024: “Stay with what works.”

Biden himself went straight at Donald Trump, saying his expected GOP rival’s ideas were “a little old and out of shape.”

Moderator Stephen Colbert, in an armchair conversation with the trio, called them “champion talkers” and joked that the three presidents had come to town “and not one of them is here to appear in court,” a dig at Trump’s many legal troubles.

The eye-popping fundraising haul was a major show of Democratic support for Biden at a time of persistently low poll numbers. The president will test the power of his campaign cash as he faces off with Trump, who proved with his 2016 win over Democrat Hillary Clinton that he didn’t need to raise the most money to seize the presidency.

During the nearly hourlong conversation, Obama and Clinton explained just how hard Biden’s job is. They spoke of loneliness and frustration over policies that work but aren’t immediately felt by the public. They gave an insider’s view of the office as they sought to explain why Biden was best for the job.

“It is a lonely seat,” said Obama, who had hitched a ride to New York on Air Force One with Biden.

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

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

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

Protesters angry at Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza and strong support of Israel briefly disrupted the show, drawing a pledge from Biden to keep working to stop civilian deaths, particularly of children. But he added, “Israel’s existence is at stake.” Hundreds more protested outside in the drizzling rain, many demanding a cease-fire and waving Palestinian flags.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was up first to warm up the crowd of about 5,000 supporters. Entertainers, too, lined up to make the case for Biden. Lizzo belted out her hit “About Damn Time” and emcee Mindy Kaling joked that it was nice to be in a room with “so many rich people,” adding that she loved that they were supporting a president who openly promises to “raise your taxes.”

Obama laid out the choice for the audience, saying that “at the end of the day, you do have to make a choice about who sees you and cares about you. I’m pretty confident the other guy doesn’t.”

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

Biden said concerns over the riot reverberated outside the U.S., with foreign leaders questioning the stability of the U.S. democracy. That democracy is still fragile, he said.

The fundraiser had different tiers of access depending on a donor’s generosity. Other participating celebrities included Queen Latifah, Ben Platt, Cynthia Erivo and Lea Michele. Tickets sold for as low as $225.

More money got donors more intimate time with the presidents. A photo with all three was $100,000. A donation of $250,000 earned donors access to one reception, and $500,000 got them into an even 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 were helping 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 more than $26 million tally 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. It raised $6 million more than Trump raised during February.

“This historic raise is a show of strong enthusiasm for President Biden and Vice President Harris and a testament to the unprecedented fundraising machine we’ve built,” said campaign co-chair Jeffrey Katzenberg. “Unlike our opponent, every dollar we’re raising is going to reach the voters who will decide this election — communicating the president’s historic record, his vision for the future and laying plain the stakes of this election.”

Trump’s campaign is expecting to bring in $33 million at a big fundraiser next week in Palm Beach, Florida, according to a person familiar with the details who spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm a number first reported by the Financial Times.

Trump has kept a low profile in recent weeks, partially because of courtroom appearances for various legal cases, the bills for which he’s paying with funds from donors. His next political rallies are scheduled for Tuesday in Michigan and Wisconsin. Some Republican leaders have become concerned that his campaign doesn’t have the infrastructure ready for a general election battle with Biden.

Trump was in the New York area on Thursday, attending the Long Island wake of a New York City police officer who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Queens.

Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley tried to framed the two candidates’ whereabouts on Thursday as a demonstration of a “contrast in leadership.”

“On the same day President Trump attended the wake of slain New York Police Department officer Jonathan Diller, Joe Biden wines and dines with celebrities at a fundraiser with Barack Obama and Bill Clinton,” he said in a statement.

The facts, said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, show that violent crime rose during Trump’s tenure while Biden’s administration has “done the polar opposite, taking decisive action from the very beginning to fund the police and achieving a historic reduction in crime.”

The setting was an unusual opportunity for the two past presidents to talk frankly about how they did the job, helping explain Biden and his presidency.

As the three men closed out the night by donning Biden’s trademark sunglasses, the president quipped, “Dark Brandon is real,” a nod to a meme featuring Biden with lasers for eyes.

___

Megerian reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in New York and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024.

United States News

Associated Press

Trump’s history-making hush money trial starts Monday with jury selection

NEW YORK (AP) — In a singular moment for American history, the hush money trial of former President Donald Trump begins Monday with jury selection. It’s the first criminal trial of a former commander in chief and the first of Trump’s four indictments to go to trial. Because Trump is the presumptive nominee for this […]

36 minutes ago

Tracy Toulou...

Associated Press

How to tackle crime in Indian Country? Empower tribal justice, ex-Justice Department official says

A recently retired director of the Justice Dept. says the federal government hasn't given tribal justice systems equal recognition.

3 hours ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson...

Associated Press

House Speaker Mike Johnson says he will push for aid to Israel and Ukraine this week

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Sunday he will try to advance wartime aid for Israel this week, along with funding for Ukraine.

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Semiautomatic firearm ban passes Colorado’s House, heads to Senate

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s Democratic-controlled House on Sunday passed a bill that would ban the sale and transfer of semiautomatic firearms, a major step for the legislation after roughly the same bill was swiftly killed by Democrats last year. The bill, which passed on a 35-27 vote, is now on its way to the Democratic-led […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Four people charged in the case of 2 women missing from Oklahoma

Four people were arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping over the weekend in connection with the disappearances of two Oklahoma women. Veronica Butler, 27; and Jilian Kelley, 39, of Hugoton, Kansas, were driving through the Oklahoma panhandle to pick up Butler’s children for a March 30 birthday party in Kansas but never showed up. […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Detectives solve 1968 killing of World War II veteran who became milkman, Florida sheriff says

VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — More than five decades after a World War II veteran was slain while working as a milkman in Florida, investigators say they’ve solved the case thanks to two people who came forward after the killer died. Hiram “Ross” Grayam was delivering milk in April 1968 and failed to return home […]

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Obama, Clinton and big-name entertainers help Biden raise a record $26 million for his reelection