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Protesters interrupt Biden, Obama, Clinton at fundraiser

President Joe Biden and his democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, headlined a star-studded fundraiser with former president Bill Clinton on, offering a robust defence of the White House’s handling of the Gaza crisis as protesters interrupted the event.

Mr Biden, who travelled with Mr Obama on Air Force One to New York, took part in a discussion with Mr Clinton moderated by “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert at the iconic Radio City Music Hall in front of thousands of guests. Organisers say the event raised more than $25 million for Mr Biden’s US re-election campaign.

But the fundraiser was punctuated by several protests inside the massive auditorium, with attendees rising at several different moments to shout over the discussion, referencing Mr Biden’s backing of Israel in the Hamas war that has killed more than 30,000 people in Gaza.

“Shame on you, Joe Biden!” one yelled.

Mr Obama and Mr Clinton offered a presidential perspective of the Gaza crisis that stressed the political realities of being in the White House.

A president needs to be able to support Israel at the same time as fighting for Palestinians to have more access to food, medical supplies and a future state, they said.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather for a rally outside Radio City Music Hall to protest Joe Biden

“It’s a lonely seat,” Mr Obama said. “One of the realities of the presidency is that the world has a lot of joy and beauty, but it also has a lot of tragedy and cruelty.”

People “understandably, oftentimes, want to feel a certain purity in terms of how those decisions are made,” he said. “But a president doesn’t have that luxury.”

When a protester inside the theatre interrupted Mr Obama, the former president snapped back: “You can’t just talk and not listen…That’s what the other side does.”

The pair of former presidents also defended Mr Biden’s handling of the economy, which gets low ratings in national polls.

Mr Clinton said Mr Biden’s economic numbers have significantly outpaced Mr Trump’s administration.

“I believe in keeping score,” Mr Clinton said. “He’s been good for America” and deserves another term.

Before the event, the three leaders’ motorcade passed hundreds of protesters demonstrating against Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza, another sign that some young voters and other progressives who voted for Mr Biden in 2020 are furious about his staunch backing of Israel in its response to the 7 October Hamas attacks.

The event included musicians Queen Latifah, Lizzo, BenPlatt, Cynthia Erivo and Lea Michele performing. Some High-paying attendees had their pictures with the three presidents taken by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Former President Donald Mr Trump, Mr Biden’s republican challenger in November’s election, was in the New York area as well, attending a wake for a slain New York City policeman.

Mr Biden, 81, has faced concerns about his age and fitness for a second four-year term. Recent Reuters/Ipsos polls show his approval rating at 40% and in a tight race with Mr Trump, 77, ahead of the 5 November election.

Joe Biden’s allies are seeking to shore up support despite opinion polls showing tepid enthusiasm for the president

The show of support from Mr Biden’s predecessors was meant to demonstrate party unity and project fundraising strength.

Tickets for the Mr Biden event cost between $250 and $500,000, according to a democrat familiar with the planning. More than 5,000 people were expected to attend.

Mr Biden’s high-profile allies are seeking to shore up his support despite opinion polls showing tepid enthusiasm for the president and in contrast to a Republican Party where many major figures oppose Mr Trump.

Trump in Long Island

Earlier on Long Island, east of New York, Mr Trump attended a wake for Jonathan Diller, the policeman who was gunned down during a routine traffic stop earlier this week in the city.

“These things can’t happen. We need law and order,” Mr Trump, surrounded by mourning uniformed officers, told reporters gathered outside a funeral home in Massapequa.

Mr Trump has sought to make supporting police a focal point of his campaign, while criticising law enforcement that targets him.

Donald Trump aims to raise $33 million in his own fundraiser on 6 April

He faces four criminal trials for his efforts to undermine the 2020 election, his mishandling of classified documents and his involvement in a “hush money” scheme involving a porn star. He was fined hundreds of millions of dollars for overstating his net worth to lenders. He says he is innocent.

Mr Biden has been routinely outraising Mr Trump and is taking in more money than his rival in big donations and small donations under $200. Mr Biden’s re-election effort raised more than $53million in February and $10 million in the 24 hours following is 7 March address to Congress.

Mr Trump aims to raise $33 million in an 6 April fundraiser, a source familiar with the republicans plans told Reuters.

A Trump campaign adviser said the candidate won’t be able to match Mr Biden’s totals, blaming the disparity on the democrat’s “billionaire” supporters and painting a picture of a Trump campaign fuelled by grassroots, working-class supporters.


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