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Fundraiser in the works with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Biden

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s campaign is trying to organize a first-of-its-kind fundraiser that officials hope would be lucrative and headline-grabbing, but also energizing for Democratic voters who so far have not shown enthusiasm for the party’s 2024 ticket, according to four people familiar with the planning. 

The idea is for three Democratic presidents — Biden, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — to appear together at a fundraiser this spring, the four people familiar with the discussions said. 

Discussions are underway to coordinate the presidents’ schedules, these people said, though no date has been set. The fundraiser would likely take place in March or April, two of the sources familiar with the discussions said. 

The plan underscores the belief among Biden allies that the party needs an all-hands-on-deck approach to help him win a second term. It’s also just one in a growing list of ways that Democratic leaders, and the Biden campaign, are gearing up for a general election they view as having the highest of stakes.

The Biden campaign did not respond to requests for comment. Spokespeople for Clinton and Obama declined to comment.

The Biden campaign in recent days shifted into a general election posture — earlier than the president’s aides anticipated. Their expectation has long been that former President Donald Trump would be Biden’s opponent this fall after the Republican primary process played out. But that moment arrived this week, Biden aides concluded, after Trump’s victory in New Hampshire, which followed his win in Iowa.

As a result, the campaign is increasing the pace of its hiring, particularly in battleground states, and ramping up its focus on voters whose support it believes will decide the November election, officials said. Biden, for instance, has tailored recent events to Black voters, including on Saturday in South Carolina. Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday in Nevada kicked off a series of small events with Latino voters.

The president’s travel schedule — which has already picked up its pace — will accelerate even more, so that he is out in the country a minimum of two days a week, according to Biden officials.

“It’s going to be very aggressive,” one White House official said.

The Biden campaign also is poised to launch a multi-million-dollar ad campaign aimed at drawing a contrast with Trump, according to two people familiar with the plans. One of the sources said it could debut around Biden’s State of the Union address, which is scheduled for early March.

An earlier general election fight also requires additional campaign cash. 

The overarching goal of fundraiser where Biden, Clinton and Obama share a stage is to raise a significant amount of money, two of the people familiar with the discussions said. The expectation is the event would bring in both big and small donations. 

But the Biden campaign also hopes the presidential trio will help mobilize the party base.

“There is real focus and urgency around making sure we beat Trump,” a Biden adviser said. “Everyone is all in. And this kind of event early on is just the latest demonstration of that.”

If the fundraiser is viewed by the campaign as a success, a second one could be organized for later in the year, one of the people familiar with the discussions said.

What Democrats see as a party show of force, however, could be viewed differently by some voters who helped Biden win in 2020, such as moderate Republicans. Clinton and Obama have been lightning rods for the GOP, and Clinton has faced criticism from some Democrats in recent years over the handling of allegations of sexual misconduct that were made against him in the 1990s.

Still, both Clinton and Obama remain popular among Democrats. And they are more popular Democratic leaders than Biden, though former presidents generally tend to enjoy higher approval from Americans than the current one.  

One potential warning sign for Biden is that his approval rating in year three of his presidency as he campaigns for reelection is lower than Obama’s and Clinton’s at this same point in their presidencies. Those numbers highlight the challenge Biden faces with voters this November.

At the same time, the president’s aides argue that key economic indicators have shown recent promising signs of improvement that they believe will benefit the president in coming months and help turn around his approval rating. To try to seize on that momentum, the White House has expanded how Biden conveys his economic message by having him engage more one-on-one with Americans about specific issues, including student loan debt and running a small business.

“We’ve mixed up the events so the president is out there talking to people individually,” the White House official said.

 



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