Biden rakes in US$25m in US fundraiser featuring Obama, Clinton, Lizzo

Biden rakes in US$25m in US fundraiser featuring Obama, Clinton, Lizzo
Biden rakes in US$25m in US fundraiser featuring Obama, Clinton, Lizzo

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - US President Joe Biden and former US President Barack Obama walk as they leave Air Force One at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York March 28, 2024.— Reuters pic

NEW YORK, March 29 — President Joe Biden and his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, headlined a star-studded fundraiser with former President Bill Clinton on Thursday that organisers said raised more than US$25 million for Biden’s US reelection campaign.

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Biden, who arrived with Obama on Air Force One on Thursday afternoon, and Clinton will participate in a discussion moderated by The Late Show host Stephen Colbert at the iconic Radio City Music Hall in front of thousands of guests. The three leaders’ motorcade passed a group of protesters outside the venue, demonstrating against Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.

Musicians Queen Latifah, Lizzo, Ben Platt, Cynthia Erivo and Lea Michele are slated to perform. Some high-paying attendees will get their pictures with the three presidents taken by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Former President Donald , Biden’s Republican challenger in November’s election, was in the New York area as well, attending a wake for a slain New York City policeman.

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Biden, 81, has faced concerns about his age and fitness for a second four-year term. Recent Reuters/Ipsos polls show his approval rating at 40 per cent and in a tight race with Trump, 77, ahead of the Nov. 5 election.

The show of support from Biden’s predecessors is meant to demonstrate party unity and project fundraising strength.

In contrast, a Trump campaign adviser said on Thursday the candidate won’t be able to match Biden’s totals, blaming the disparity on the Democrat’s “billionaire” supporters and painting a picture of a Trump campaign fuelled by grassroots, working-class supporters

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Tickets for Thursday’s Biden event, expected to bring some buzz to his reelection effort, cost between US$250 and US$500,000, according to a Democrat familiar with the planning. The campaign said it raised more than US$25 million. More than 5,000 people were expected to attend. The event will not be televised, but the campaign plans to post clips on social media.

Small-dollar donors paid US$25 to take part in a separate virtual event with Obama, Biden and Clinton. Biden’s high-profile allies are seeking to shore up his support despite opinion polls showing tepid enthusiasm for the president and in contrast to a Republican Party where many major figures oppose Trump.

“President Obama and President Clinton strongly support President Biden’s leadership and obviously his agenda,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday. “We understand the importance of the three of them being together.”

Biden has visited all the top battleground states since a fiery State of the Union address this month, but mostly has spoken to much smaller, carefully curated crowds. It’s part of a deliberate strategy to emphasise interactions with ordinary Americans - a strategy that also keeps protesters at bay.

The presence of Obama, who is still enormously popular with Democrats, could bolster enthusiasm among some young voters and other progressives who voted for Biden in 2020 but are furious about his staunch backing of Israel in its response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.

Clinton’s appeal is less clear-cut. His affair with a White House intern, which nearly cost him the presidency, was scrutinized anew during the #MeToo women’s movement, with a new focus on the imbalance of power.

The appeal of seeing all three men together gave Democratic coffers a jolt.

“The numbers don’t lie: Today’s event is a massive show of force and a true reflection of the momentum to reelect the Biden-Harris ticket, campaign co-chair Jeffrey Katzenberg said in a statement.

Cash haul

On Long Island, east of New York, Trump attended a wake for Jonathan Diller, the New York policeman who was gunned down during a routine traffic stop earlier this week in the city.

“These things can’t happen. We need law and order,” Trump, surrounded by mourning uniformed officers, told reporters gathered outside a funeral home in Massapequa.

Trump has sought to make supporting police a focal point of his campaign, while criticizing law enforcement that targets him.

He faces four criminal trials for his efforts to undermine the 2020 election, his mishandling of classified documents and his involvement in a ‘hush money’ scheme involving a porn star. He was fined hundreds of millions of dollars for overstating his net worth to lenders. He says he is innocent.

Obama has voiced concerns to Biden that Trump could win, ahead of a shakeup of Biden’s team that sent two top White House aides to the Wilmington, Delaware-based campaign.

Biden’s reelection effort raised more than US$53 million in February and US$10 million in the 24 hours following his March 7 address to Congress. Biden has been routinely outraising Trump and is taking in more money than his rival in big donations and small donations under US$200.

Trump aims to raise US$33 million in an April 6 fundraiser, a source familiar with the Republican’s plans told Reuters. — Reuters

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