Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Biden Raises $25M in 'Historic' Fundraiser, Joins Obama, Clinton

In a show of force that his campaign is calling “the most successful political fundraiser in American history,” President Biden is set to raise more than $25 million during a New York event featuring former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

More than 5,000 people are expected to attend the sold-out event at New York's Radio City Music Hall, with guests paying between $225 and $500,000, according to Biden's campaign. The massive pullback comes as Biden and his allies seek to project their growing financial advantage as a broad sign of strength and momentum in the race against former President Donald Trump.

High-paying donors at the event will receive perks like photos with the three presidents. Acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz has been tapped to snap donor portraits with Biden, Clinton and Obama.

“This historic raise shows strong enthusiasm for President Biden and Vice President Harris and is a testament to the unprecedented fundraising engine we've built,” Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, campaign co-chairman, said in a statement. “Unlike our opponent, every dollar we raise is going to reach the voters who will decide this election — clarifying the president's historic record, his vision for the future, and the stakes of this election.” It's an attack on Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, and a fundraiser to cover his legal costs.

The event ramps up campaign activity for Biden in the wake of his fiery March 7 State of the Union address, and is the latest push by the president's allies to address concerns about his aging and approval ratings. Biden is 81 and Trump is 77.

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If Democratic voters are wary of Biden's political stance, the star-studded event in New York is designed to provide a cheerful counterpoint to the malaise. It will feature musical guests including Queen Latifah, Lizo and Ben Platt. Mindy Kaling will serve as host. An after party for 500 VIP guests will be co-hosted by First Lady Jill Biden and DJ T-Nice.

In the evening's main event, comedian Stephen Colbert will host a conversation between Biden, Obama and Clinton.

The Biden campaign has begun relying more on Obama to boost its fundraising in recent months, with the former president visiting the White House last year to express concerns about the state of the race. In a private lunch with Biden, Obama urged Biden to strengthen his campaign apparatus and go more aggressively to block Trump's planned march to the White House.

Fundraising efforts featuring Obama or his signature have already netted Democrats $15.4 million, Biden officials said. They said Obama participated in a “Meet the President” fundraiser in December that raised nearly $3 million.

Biden has used Obama as a sounding board, as both see preventing Trump from returning to the White House as key to preserving their own political legacies.

“Given the stakes of this election, President Obama will do everything in his power to support President Biden's re-election,” Eric Schultz, a senior adviser to Obama, said in a statement, adding that the former president will help undercut Democrats this year. . “Our strategy is based on driver impact, specifically where and when his voice helps move the needle.”

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While some Trump aides have acknowledged the need to close the fundraising gap — Trump's campaign raised $20 million in February, compared to $53 million for Biden — they dismiss the Biden-Obama-Clinton event as a gathering of establishment politicians with shoddy records.

“Three people responsible for death, destruction and misery around the world,” Trump spokesman Steven Cheung responded to Biden's post on X.

Trump himself has indirectly narrowed the money gap, accusing Biden without evidence of targeting him for political reasons. Trump said earlier this week that Democrats were determined to use the legal system to “try to take as much of his money as possible.”

Trump has often boasted that he won the 2016 presidential election despite being outspent by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and has pointed to polls showing him leading Biden in key battleground races and nationally. While Biden appears to be winning in some recent polls, Trump's consistently strong polling position is a constant source of Democratic concern.

However, Trump recently moved to reshuffle the leadership of the Republican National Committee as his campaign trailed Biden on the money front.

Last week the Biden campaign reported $71 million in cash at the end of February, more than double the $33.5 million reported by Trump's campaign. Trump has spent tens of millions of dollars on his legal troubles, which include criminal charges and civil lawsuits.

Biden's aides tried to highlight that contrast as evidence that their campaign was rolling during Trump's establishment. The Biden team announced plans to open more than 100 offices this month and launched a $30 million spring advertising campaign in key states.

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The $25 million event in New York will further enhance Biden's ability to sell his message to voters. Besides the 5,000 participants, thousands of donors have registered to watch the show online.

Tyler Pager contributed to this report.

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