Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Barack Obama and Bill Clinton to raise money with Biden amid concerns about his age

By 37ci3 Mar28,2024



Bill Clinton was 22 years younger than George HW Bush in 1992. He was 50 when he won a second term four years later, defeating 73-year-old Bob Dole. In 2008, Barack Obama was only 47 years old when he defeated his Senate colleague John McCain, who was a quarter of a century older, to win the White House.

On Thursday, both former presidents — now 77 and 62, respectively — will end their active retirements to try to make a political dent in the campaign of their successor, Joe Biden, 81, with a rare joint appearance at a campaign fundraiser in New York. York.

The rare and highly anticipated meeting of the three Democratic presidents is expected to raise at least $15 million for Biden’s re-election bid, and advisers hope it will send a message about how united the party is behind his candidacy as the general election continues.

But it could also serve to highlight a key weakness that Biden’s campaign this year has increasingly taken steps to address.

Unlike Obama and Clinton before him, Biden is running against a candidate just a few years younger than him. Still, Biden is already adopting some of the tactics and even the language used by Dole and McCain when fighting younger men.

Take, for example, Biden’s recent visit to New York, where he offered a new answer to the age question.

“It’s about how old your ideas are” grassold On NBC’s “Late Night,” host Seth Meyers added that former President Donald Trump “wants to take us back on a number of issues.”

It was a reversal of how Clinton answered a question about Dol’s age during the second presidential debate in 1996.

“I don’t think Senator Dole is too old to be president. I question the age of his ideas,” he said.

Echoing a response Biden gave this year, Dole said, “wisdom comes from age, experience and intelligence.”

Scott Reed, who is Dole’s campaign manager, said the campaign is concerned about how age is often the focus of media coverage of the race. The campaign published detailed medical records and conducted focus groups and surveys to test ways to tackle the problem – and found that older voters were particularly concerned about it.

They “could never imagine being president. “They couldn’t even keep their own checkbooks, let alone be the commanders of the free world,” he said.

Dole campaigned more aggressively than other executives in the race, Reed argued, including a 96-hour nonstop campaign in recent days that he said helped Republicans at least retain control of Congress.

“It is very difficult to defeat the current president, especially when the economy is growing and the world is at peace. So our fight against Clinton in ’96 was bigger than age,” he said.

Twelve years later, McCain, like Dole, tried to use humor to overcome the age problem. Both men actually set up cameos on “Saturday Night Live” — McCain several times — where he went over the age limit.

“I ask you: What should we look for in our next president?” Definitely someone very, very, very old,” McCain said an appearance. “I have the necessary courage, wisdom, experience and, most importantly, old age.”

Mark Salter, a longtime senior adviser to McCain, said the campaign also acknowledges that age is a challenge, but aims for a response that hasn’t shown.

“We didn’t make her up, we didn’t change her wardrobe, we didn’t push her in front of the cameras,” he said. “We often drew the attention of journalists to the fact that his work schedule is more busy than Obama’s. In New Hampshire, he would do 100 or whatever town halls and stay there until the last question was asked. Then he talked with journalists all day and worked all night.”

Clinton’s campaigns — especially her “bridging the gap to the 21st century” re-election theme — tried to exploit the generation gap more prominently than Obama’s. For Obama, the “Change” theme was more of a one-two punch in the Democratic primaries to succeed the unpopular George W. Bush while challenging Democratic primary nominee Hillary Clinton.

Salter said McCain’s team considered the idea of ​​a one-term pledge “not to address concerns about his age, but to get some of the ‘change’ message across.” Ultimately, McCain shot down the idea.

“He had no doubts about his ability to serve,” Salter said. “He didn’t look old until he got sick.” McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017, ending a potential second term.

There isn’t much precedent for the Biden campaign’s Thursday event. A person familiar with the plan said the high-profile night, which will be attended by more than 3,000 people, will sell out.

The event is designed to impress.

Actor Mindy Kaling will open the show at Radio City Music Hall with remarks from First Lady Jill Biden and will perform with musical guests Queen Latifah, Lizzo, Ben Platt, Cynthia Erivo and Lea Michele.

Some of the biggest donors will have the opportunity to have their photos taken with the three Democratic presidents by celebrity portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz. The cheapest tickets were sold for $250, with the largest contributions coming from people giving $250,000 and $500,000.

Biden-Harris campaign co-chair Jeffrey Katzenberg, finance chairman Rufus Gifford and Biden Victory Fund finance chairman Chris Korge led the fundraiser along with Condé Nast editorial director Anna Wintour.

In addition to the in-person component, other donors will get access to a “virtual conversation with the roots of the room” with the three presidents, moderated by Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez. By online invitation, this entry costs $25.

After the event, the first lady will hold a “VIP afterparty for 500 people”, which will be organized in collaboration with DJ D-Nice, whose profile rose during the coronavirus pandemic, after holding live “Club Karantini” virtual events on Instagram.

In planning Thursday’s fundraiser, the Biden, Obama and Clinton teams tried to balance “how you look forward and backward at the same time,” a source familiar with the planning said. Obama, Biden and Clinton will inevitably go down memory lane during a debate moderated by comedian Stephen Colbert.

Some of Biden’s most proud pieces of legislation from his time as a senator — the crime bill and the Violence Against Women Act — were signed by Clinton. And Biden’s loyal service as Obama’s vice president was a key factor in overcoming other weaknesses, including age, when he ran in a crowded Democratic field in 2020.

But Biden has increasingly used the word “future” in his speeches to describe policies such as tax reform, universal pre-K and affordable housing that will be part of his second-term agenda.

“I want to talk about a future of opportunity that we can build together — a future where the days of the recession are over and the rich and the biggest corporations no longer get all the tax breaks,” he said. State of the Union address this month.

Biden speaks regularly with both former presidents, according to multiple sources familiar with the relationship. Obama and Biden met in person on Friday to mark an event marking the 14th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

During a private conversation in the White House Family Dining Room, Obama told Biden how effective he thought his State of the Union address would be, given the busy travel schedule Biden has embarked on later, a source familiar with the matter said.

In addition to private conversations, Biden also often directs his top aides to follow up on various conversation topics with Obama or Clinton. Chief of staff Jeff Zients, chief advisers Anita Dunn and Steve Ricchetti, deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed and campaign advisers Jen O’Malley Dillon and Mike Donilon recently held talks with Obama at Biden’s direction.

Similarly, a longtime Clinton aide met with Ricchetti last week to discuss Clinton’s desire to play an active role in supporting Biden this year.

In addition to traditional campaigning, both men may engage in more unconventional campaign tactics that the Biden team is experimenting with, especially to reach younger voters. Thursday’s fundraiser is just one component of what one official involved in the process called a “broader program,” including a joint podcast for the three commanders in chief in New York on Thursday.

Reed, Dole’s campaign manager, said Biden’s best approach to age is not a “freeze strategy” to try to appear more dynamic.

“The best thing Biden can do is go after Trump and show the energy he’s shown behind closed doors with these donors,” he said.



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