DemDaily: Three Presidents

April 2, 2024

President Joe Biden and former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton headlined a star-studded event at Radio City Music Hall last Thursday night, raising a record $26 million-plus for Biden's reelection campaign.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) delivered opening remarks to an elated audience of more than 5,000 supporters, who had been celebrating ahead of the event at VIP receptions and a festive "convention-like" atmosphere with bars, signage and hors d'oeuvres in the hallway.

Actor and comedian Mindy Kaling, who emceed the two-hour program, quipped that it was nice to be in a room with “so many rich people,” adding she loved that they were supporting a president who openly promises to “raise your taxes.”

Tickets for the sold-out event started at $225, with several tiers of access for major donors. A photo with all three presidents was $100,000; $250,000 donors had their own reception; and $500,000 a more exclusive gathering. First Lady Jill Biden and DJ D-Nice hosted an afterparty at the music hall with 500 guests.

A runway of celebrity guests pledged their support to Biden, including Queen Latifah, Ben Platt, Cynthia Erivo, Lea Michele and Lizzo, who belted out her hit “About Damn Time.”

Late-night host Stephen Colbert moderated an armchair conversation with Biden, Clinton and Obama, joking that the "three presidents have come to New York, and not one of them is here to appear in court” -- a dig at former President Donald Trump’s criminal indictments and legal troubles.

Colbert said 2024 truly is "the most important election in our lives...when it comes to rights and freedoms and the heart and the soul and the future of our country."

Biden agreed, saying, "We’re at a real inflection point in history...I think our democracy is literally at stake." The President railed against Trump, then joked, "you know, he is a little old and out of shape. But anyway..." to an uproarious crowd.

Colbert suspected some Americans had forgotten some of the alarming aspects of Trump's presidency, including the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection -- which Biden said reverberated outside the US, with foreign leaders questioning the stability of our democracy. That democracy, he said, "is still fragile."

To great applause, Obama noted, "I think it’s worth adding that it’s not just the negative case against the presumptive nominee on the other side; it’s the positive case for somebody who’s done an outstanding job in the presidency."

He rattled off Biden's extensive list of accomplishments while in the White House, saying, "We also have a positive story to tell about the future."

At one point the program was disrupted by an individual protesting the Israeli-Hamas war. Obama sternly responded, "Part of democracy is not just talking. It’s listening. That’s what the other side does, and it is important for us to understand that it is possible to have moral clarity and have deeply held beliefs but still recognize that the world is complicated and it is hard to solve these problems."

During the hour-long conversation, both Obama and Clinton stressed the difficulty of the office and the reasons Biden was ideally suited for the job. Clinton also condemned Trump's action in office, saying to a riled-up crowd, "I believe in keeping score...not in a vindictive way but in a positive way. [Biden] has been good for America, and he deserves another term. And democracy around the world needs him."

The evening was historic, not only for bringing together more than three decades of Democratic leadership, but because none of the three men wore a tie, generating tremendous online buzz among fashionistas who declared the demise of the antiquated accessory. The three did, however, don sunglasses at the end -- a nod to the trademark Ray-Bans that Biden often wears.

Despite polling that still places Biden slightly behind Trump, Biden is significantly outraising the former president, with $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 remarkable fundraising haul last week is a critical show of Democratic support for Biden, who is also coming off his highly praised State of the Union address followed by three energetic weeks of campaign events.

DemList will keep you informed.

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Kimberly Scott
Publisher

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Sources: White House, AP, New York Times, Spectrum NY1, The Guardian

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