Star-studded Biden-Obama-Clinton fundraiser pulls ‘historic’ $25m haul in New York

When it comes to hauling in cash for President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign, it’s now obvious that three presidential heads are always better than one.

That’s the lesson Biden-Harris campaign officials are taking away from a star-studded fundraiser to be held on Thursday evening at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, which is set to raise more than $25m for the president’s campaign coffers.

In a statement announcing what they described as the “historic” result, the campaign said the fundraiser, billed as “An Evening with President Biden and Presidents Obama and Clinton,” represents the “most successful political fundraiser in American history” with a 5,000-strong sellout crowd at the historic Manhattan venue and “thousands more” taking in the spectacle online.

In addition to Mr Biden’s two Democratic predecessors, the programme will also include musical performances from Queen Latifah, Lizzo, Ben Platt, Cynthia Erivo and Lea Michelle, plus Late Night host Stephen Colbert, who will moderate an “armchair conversation” with the trio of chief executives.

“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 Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood mogul who serves as a co-chair of Mr Biden’s 2024 effort.

The DreamWorks SKG founder, a longtime supporter of Democratic politics, contrasted Mr Biden’s fundraising efforts with those of his likely opponent, presumptive GOP nominee and former president Donald Trump, who is diverting significant amounts of campaign cash to his various legal defence efforts as he fights four sets of criminal charges in four different state and jurisdictions.

Future president Joe Biden, then-president Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton at the White House with the US World Cup Soccer Team in May 2010 (AFP via Getty Images)
Future president Joe Biden, then-president Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton at the White House with the US World Cup Soccer Team in May 2010 (AFP via Getty Images)

“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,” he said.

The appearance of Barack Obama (president from 2009 to 2017) and Bill Clinton (president from 1993 to 2001) at Mr Biden’s fundraiser is a sign of the close relationship the 46th president has forged with the 42nd and 44th as he looks to keep the 45th from defeating him and becoming the 47th as well.

Leon Panetta, a former chief of staff to Mr Obama and onetime Central Intelligence Agency director who also served in the Clinton administration, told the AP earlier this week that the image of the three presidents standing side-by-side would be “worth a hell of a lot in politics today” and said there is “everything to be gained” by Mr Biden appearing with the two former presidents.

The joint appearance is also a reflection of how the three men, once rivals, have united to work together now that political campaigns of their own are a thing of the past for two of the three.

And the show of Democratic unity that will be on display Thursday evening will stand in stark contrast to the relative isolation of Mr Trump, who notably does not enjoy the support of his only living GOP predecessor, George W Bush, or his own former vice president, Mike Pence.

The ex-president, who will stand trial on criminal charges in his former home state of New York next month, is also slated to be in Manhattan on Thursday.