Bill Clinton And Barack Obama Join Joe Biden For Blockbuster Radio City Fundraiser; Protesters Interrupt Presidents’ Q&A — Update

UPDATE: Protesters interrupted President Joe Biden’s conversation with his predecessors, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, a signature feature of the blockbuster fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall.

The disruption isn’t all that surprising, given that many of Biden’s events have seen hecklers calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. This time, according to a pool report, one of the protesters was yelling obscenities about a nuclear war with Russia. Other protesters interrupted over the situation in Gaza.

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When one protester interrupted, Obama snapped back, “You can’t just talk and not listen… That’s what the other side does.”

Stephen Colbert, moderating the conversation, first asked what was at stake in the election.

“I think our democracy is at stake, no joke,” Biden said, adding that if “we get by this election,’ then “we’re in a position where we can set the course for the next four or five, six decades in a way that can make us much better.”

Obama said that with Donald Trump it is “not just a nominee, but frankly a party and an entire infrastructure that increasingly seems unconcerned with the essence of America. The idea of self governance and the possibilities of us all full operating and bridging are differences and moving forward. But we also have a positive story to tell about the future.”

Clinton said, “What happened was actually job growth under President Trump was slower than it was under President Obama. But people didn’t feel it. It takes a while to feel it. So then he came and claimed it for everything. Then all of a sudden, Joe Biden comes along and creates roughly twice as many jobs. So I believe in keeping score — not in a vindictive way, but in a positive way. He’s been good for America and he deserves another term.”

As the demonstrators interrupted, Colbert asked about the Gaza war.

Biden said, “There are too many innocent victims, Israeli and Palestinian. We’ve got to get more food and medicine, supplies into the Palestinians. But we can’t forget, Israel is in a position where its very existence as at stake. You have to have all those people. They weren’t killed. They were massacred. They were massacred.”

He added,  “I’ve been working with the Saudis and with all the other Arab countries, including Egypt and Jordan and Qatar. They’re prepared to fully recognize Israel … for the first time. But there has to be a post Gaza plan, and there has to be a train to a two state solution. It doesn’t have to occur today, but there has to be a progression, and I think we can do that.”

Colbert also got in a riff on Trump’s boasts about winning his own golf club’s championship.

Colbert asked Biden, “My question to you sir is, can voters trust a presidential candidate who has not won a single Trump International Golf Club trophy? At long last, sir, have you no chip shot?”

Biden answered, “Look, I’d be happy to play. I told him this once before when he came into the Oval before he was sworn in. I said, ‘I’ll give you three strokes but you carry your own bag. I’ve only played 21 holes since I’ve been president.'”

Toward the end, Colbert, Obama and Clinton donned aviators. Biden said that he was a man who loves two things: Ray Ban sunglasses and ice cream.”

“By the way,” the president said, “Dark Brandon is real.”

The campaign said that the event ended up bringing in more than $26 million.

Stephen Colbert moderates a conversation with Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Stephen Colbert moderates a conversation with Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

PREVIOUSLY: Mindy Kaling, emceeing tonight’s Biden campaign fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall, quipped that she was getting older but compared to the president and his two predecessors, she looks like a “cast member on Euphoria.

“The reason we are here is to re-elect President Joe Biden,” she said, getting serious, per a pool report.

She did riff on the ticket prices, telling the large crowd that it was nice to be in a room with “so many rich people,” and that they were supporting a president who wants to “raise your taxes.”

First Lady Jill Biden, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer each spoke, and Lizzo performed About Damn Time.

PREVIOUSLY: Joe Biden was joined by his predecessors Barack Obama and Bill Clinton today for a taping of the Smartless podcast, a prelude to a large-scale showbiz filled fundraiser this evening at Radio City Music Hall.

The fundraising event raised more than $25 million, making it the largest haul for a single political event, according to Biden’s re-election campaign. The campaign was quick to compare the money raised to that of Donald Trump, who has lagged his rival in fundraising. The sum is larger than the entire amount that Trump’s campaign raised in February.

The appearance of Biden, Obama and Clinton also was designed as a show of unity to Trump, who has been shunned by high profile traditional Republicans like former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz Cheney. The only living Republican ex-president, George W. Bush, has not said whether he will endorse Trump, but he did not campaign with the former Celebrity Apprentice host in 2016 or 2020.

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather outside Radio City Music Hall.
Pro-Palestinian protesters gather outside Radio City Music Hall.

Outside of Radio City, though, was a reminder for Biden of the fissures in the party over the Israel-Gaza war, as a large number of demonstrators nearby the venue. The appearance of protesters at any Biden event has become a common scene, with hecklers interrupting his speech in Raleigh earlier this week.

At the event, Stephen Colbert will moderate a discussion with the three presidents. First Lady Jill Biden also will deliver remarks, and there will be performances by Lizzo, Cynthia Erivo, Ben Platt, Queen Latifah and Lea Michelle. Mindy Kaling will emcee.

About 5,000 people are expected at the sold out event, with ticket prices reportedly ranging from $225 per person to $500,000 at the top level, in addition to a heavily promoted online contest to win tickets to attend. The latter includes access to exclusive events and a photo with the three presidents. The campaign said that Annie Leibovitz would be taking photos with some of the attendees.

Donald Trump’s campaign spent much of the day pointing out that he was also in New York, but attending the wake of NYPD officer Jonathan Diller, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop. Fox News gave the campaign an assist with a chyron of Trump’s visit, reading, “Trump attends cop wake, Biden goes to fundraiser.”

Next week, Hillary Clinton and Lin-Manuel Miranda will host a New York fundraiser for Biden’s campaign at a Broadway performance of Suffs: The Musical. Clinton is co-producer of the musical.

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