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Biden says his glitzy fundraiser with Obama and Clinton projects party unity heading into November

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NEW YORK (AP) — Fresh off his largest-ever fundraiser, which featured Democratic predecessors Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, President Joe Biden declared Friday that the big-dollar event shows “that we are united” in ways Republicans can’t match.

The Biden campaign said it took in a record $26 million from the sold-out gathering at Radio City Music Hall, which also featured late-night host Stephen Colbert as moderator for the presidential trio. Biden spent the night in New York, then addressed a separate crowd of around 200 of his largest donors and fundraisers from in and around the city.

“It’s because of you that I can say that we’ve raised more money than previous Democratic campaign in history,” said Biden, whose reelection bid said it already had $155 million in cash on hand through the end of February — before Thursday night’s take was factored in.

“A couple of us have been doing this for a year or two. I don’t ever remember an event like last night,” Biden said of himself and the past presidents. He added wistfully, “I’m the president but was looking out there, holy God.”

Biden said that “last night showed the skeptics, it showed the press, it showed everyone that we are united.” He is trying to present a stark contrast with former President Donald Trump, who is now seeking to win back the White House but has been shunned by his only living Republican predecessor, President George W. Bush.

Even Trump’s former Vice President, Mike Pence, says he’s unwilling to endorse his former boss. Trump and his Save American political action committee are also reporting having just $37 million in cash on hand through February.

Still, there were moments of disunity on Thursday night, when the event was interrupted by protesters objecting to the Biden administration’s support of Israel in its war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Larger groups of similar demonstrators massed outside the building.

Trump also has shown strength in some early polls in key swing states, and even Biden acknowledged that in his Friday comments to donors. The president predicted that he would see his standing in key areas improve in the weeks following his State of the Union address and noted that he’d visited every major battleground state in recent weeks, saluting “our grassroots organization.”

Biden also tried to seize on Trump and other top Republicans’ frequent question of whether the country is better off now than four years ago, a time when the coronavirus pandemic was still in its early stages and large swaths of the global economy were shutting down.

“Well, Donald, I’m glad you asked the question,” Biden said, noting that his administration had helped tame the pandemic while keeping the economy strong and unemployment low.

“I have a different focus,” Biden said noting a new question he wants voters to ponder, “Will we be better off four years from now?”

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Weissert reported from Washington.

By COLLEEN LONG and WILL WEISSERT
Associated Press

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