New York election fundraiser brings together Biden, Obama and Clinton

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Political donors can normally expect to see one president when they buy tickets to a re-election fundraiser, but this Thursday will give them a rare opportunity to hear from three at once.

President Joe Biden will be joined by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton at Radio City Music Hall in New York City for an event that brings together More than three decades of Democratic leadership.

The fundraiser will be a golden exclamation point in a recent flurry of presidential campaign travel. Biden has visited every political battleground in the three weeks since his State of the Union address served as a rallying cry for his re-election bid.

The New York City Affair is an hours-long event with varying levels of access depending on the generosity of donors.

The centerpiece is an onstage conversation with the three presidents, moderated by late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert. There is also a lineup of musical artists (Queen Latifah, Lizzo, Ben Platt, Cynthia Erivo and Lea Michele) who will be presented by actress Mindy Kaling. Thousands of people are expected and tickets cost only $225.

More money allows donors to have more intimate time with presidents. A photo with the three of them costs $100,000. A donation of $250,000 grants donors access to a reception, and $500,000 grants them access to an even more exclusive meeting.

“But the party doesn’t end there,” according to the campaign. First lady Jill Biden and DJ D-Nice will host an after-party at Radio City Music Hall with 500 guests.

Obama and Clinton are helping Biden widen his already significant monetary lead over Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee. Biden had $155 million cash on hand until the end of February, compared to $37 million for Trump and his Save America political action committee.

“Democrats are united and energized behind President Biden’s re-election campaign, and that will be fully demonstrated this Thursday in New York City,” campaign spokesman Kevin Muñoz said in a statement. “Donald Trump has no strength heading into the general election: huge swaths of Republican primary voters have made it clear that they have no interest in voting for him this November, Republican leaders like his own vice president openly oppose him, and even if Trump would like to reach them (he doesn’t have them!), he doesn’t have the money or energy to do it.”

Trump has kept a low profile in recent weeks, in part due to court appearances in various legal cases. He is also expected to be in the area on Thursday, attending the Long Island Wake for a New York City Police Officer who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Queens.

His next political rally is scheduled for Tuesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Some Republican leaders worry that their campaign does not have the infrastructure ready for a general election battle with Biden.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung dismissed the significance of Biden’s Thursday fundraiser.

“Crooked Joe is so mentally deficient that he needs to trot out some retreads like Clinton and Obama,” he said.

Leon Panetta, who held senior positions under Clinton and Obama, described the fundraiser as an important moment for Biden’s campaign.

“What it does, first and foremost, is broaden and strengthen the support of all Democrats,” he said.

Panetta said Clinton and Obama, both known as effective political communicators, could help Biden develop a better pitch for his re-election.

“I can’t think of two people who would be better at crafting that kind of message,” he said.

Obama’s attendance on Thursday is a reminder of his role in pushing for Biden’s re-election. A joint fundraiser with Biden and Obama raised nearly $3 million in December. And people who served in the former president’s administration are also raising money for Biden and scheduling their own event for April 11.

“Consider what you will donate this cycle and do it now,” said one email that was sent to a network of people. “The advance money is much more valuable to the campaign.”

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