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3 Presidents, Celebrity Performances and Protester Interruptions at Biden Campaign’s $26M Fundraiser

President Joe Biden was joined Thursday by two of his Democratic predecessors for a star-studded fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall that his campaign said brought in more than $26 million.

Former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton participated in the event in New York with more than 5,000 supporters in attendance — including several protesters who interrupted the program when the three presidents were speaking.

Actor and comedian Mindy Kaling hosted the program, which ended at around 10 p.m., and late night host Stephen Colbert moderated a conversation with Biden, Clinton and Obama. Special guests include celebrities like Queen Latifah, Lizzo, Ben Platt, Cynthia Erivo and Lea Michele.

During the nearly hourlong moderated conversation, Colbert joked that the moment was historic because “three presidents have come to New York, and not one of them to appear in court,” taking a jab at former President Donald Trump’s criminal indictments and civil trials.

Clinton also took a swipe at Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, arguing that he “had a good couple of years because he stole them from Barack Obama.”

But the discussion was interrupted at least five times by protesters. Colbert acknowledged one protester and asked Biden about the U.S. role in ensuring a peaceful and prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Biden said more needed to be done to get relief into Gaza but added that Israel’s very existence was at stake.

“There has to be a train for a two-state solution,” Biden said. “It doesn’t have to carry today. There has to be a progression. And I think we can do that.”

His response was met with a standing ovation and chants of “four more years.”

Obama sternly addressed a protester when he was interrupted, saying, “You can’t just talk and not listen.”

“That’s part of democracy,” Obama added. “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.”

The crowd erupted in applause.

Biden’s team has taken steps to minimize disruptions, including making events smaller and withholding exact locations longer than usual, after a speech in January when pro-Palestinian protesters interrupted him about a dozen times.

Outside the New York venue Thursday, more than 100 pro-Palestinian protesters chanted slogans like “Biden, Biden, you’re a liar,” and waved Palestinian flags and signs with anti-war messages.

The group Abandon Biden encouraged people to protest the president during his visit over the White House’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

“We cannot idly sit by as our president aides and abets genocide in Gaza,” the group’s New York co-chair Mosaab Sadia said in a statement. “The movement to Abandon Biden is only just beginning.”

Inside Radio City Music Hall, the novelty of having three presidents in the same room was not lost on attendees.

Earlier in the program, Kaling joked about having Biden, Obama and Clinton in the same room, saying that when someone shouts “Mr. President,” three people turn around.

Ticket prices started at $250, but the largest contributions shot up to half a million dollars. Some of the biggest donors were to have their pictures taken with all three presidents by photographer Annie Leibovitz.

First lady Jill Biden called the program “the fundraiser to end all fundraisers.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also delivered remarks.

For the three presidents, the fundraiser capped off a day of mobilization efforts that included sitting for an interview with the podcast “SmartLess,” which the White House said would be available at a later, unspecified date.

They also sat for a discussion with Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, which was streamed to grassroots donors. The presidents talked about re-election efforts — both Clinton and Obama served two terms — as well as lighter topics, like favorite ice cream favors.

“You’re all part of an incredible team we’re building, and we’re just getting started,” Biden said in his closing message during the discussion. “So let’s keep going. Let’s win this November.”

The trio arrived at Radio City Music Hall together in “The Beast” — the president’s car in the motorcade.

Biden also invited Obama to ride in The Beast after he landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where they enjoyed catching up on their personal and professional lives, an aide to Obama told NBC News.

The show of unity among Biden, Clinton and Obama stands in stark contrast to Trump, who faces opposition from members of his own administration, including former Vice President Mike Pence, as he seeks a return to the White House in November.

Former President George W. Bush — the only other Republican former president — declined to support Trump in 2020.

The Trump campaign has not held a major event since March 16. Earlier Thursday, Trump attended the wake for a New York police officer who was shot and killed in Queens on Monday.

Biden and Trump are polling neck-and-neck, with 46% of voters supporting Trump and 45% supporting Biden, according to a March poll by CNBC. That poll, however, had Trump leading Biden by 30 percentage points when respondents were asked which candidate was the best on economic issues.

During Thursday’s moderated discussion, Colbert asked Clinton what he would say to voters who do not feel like the economy is strong. Clinton answered that the 2008 recession and Covid are still affecting voters and that Trump did not sustain economic growth spurred by Obama. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have methodically “put Humpty Dumpty back together again,” Clinton said.

“We should not make 2016’s mistake again,” he added, referring to when Trump defeated his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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