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Biden touts a $25M haul from fundraiser featuring Barack Obama and Bill Clinton

Former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton clap for President Biden during a campaign fundraising event at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Thursday.
Brendan Smialowski
/
AFP via Getty Images
Former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton clap for President Biden during a campaign fundraising event at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Thursday.

Updated March 28, 2024 at 11:06 PM ET

President Biden had an entourage of support from celebrities and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama at a historic campaign fundraiser set to raise more than $25 million Thursday night, as Biden continues to aggressively campaign against former President Donald Trump.

The event at Radio City Music Hall in New York was meant to reinforce Biden's campaign finances and widen his voter outreach.

Biden already has a commanding lead over Trump in funding, especially as Trump and his groups are figuring out how to cover Trump's legal costs. But Biden and Democrats aren't holding back to increase that gap.

By mid-March, the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee amassed a combined $155 million cash on hand, while the Trump campaignand the Republican National Committee ended February with $44.85 million cash on hand. Since Super Tuesday, the Biden campaign has outspent the Trump team on pre-booked advertising by nearly four times.

"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 Biden-Harris 2024 campaign co-chair Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Obama and Clinton uniting forces behind Biden could help the incumbent weather the unique political challenges that his predecessors — who both had higher approval ratings than Biden during their reelection campaigns — did not have to face: the aftermath of a worldwide pandemic, the Jan. 6 insurrection, turmoil over abortion access and a growing protest vote campaign over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

A star-studded cast also appear with the former presidents and Biden, including Mindy Kaling, who hosted, and Stephen Colbert, who moderated a conversation with the three presidents.

It was an opportunity for Biden to counter concerns about his age and polls that show a lack of enthusiasm.

But frustrations against Biden did flare up: Protesters interrupted the event multiple times, most to criticize Biden's handling of the war in Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather for the "Flood Manhattan for Gaza" rally outside Radio City Music Hall while President Biden holds a fundraiser for his reelection campaign in New York on Thursday.
Leonardo Munoz / AFP via Getty Images
/
AFP via Getty Images
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather for the "Flood Manhattan for Gaza" rally outside Radio City Music Hall while President Biden holds a fundraiser for his reelection campaign in New York on Thursday.

The Trump campaign's response

The Trump campaign notes that Biden hasn't had to spend money fending off primary challengers, like Trump has. The Trump campaign also is just now getting access to the Republican National Committee support since officially securing the nomination.

"Our digital online fundraising continues to skyrocket, our major donor investments are climbing, and Democrats are running scared of the fundraising prowess of President Trump," said Trump campaign communications director Steven Cheung.

Another challenge for Trump, though, are his mounting legal fees, which his political action committee is spending money on.

Katzenberg took a swipe at that fact, and said Biden is focused on demonstrating his track record to voters.

"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."

The money race isn't anywhere near over. Trump and the Republican Party have a fundraiser next week that they say will overshadow Biden's event by raising at least $33 million.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jeongyoon Han
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.