Mar 29, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Obama defends Biden as protesters disrupt campaign event

 Former  President Obama claps for President Biden during a campaign fundraising event in New York City on Thursday.

Former President Obama claps for President Biden during a campaign fundraising event at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Thursday. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Protesters disrupted President Biden's star-studded campaign event with former Presidents Obama and Clinton in New York City on Thursday night.

The big picture: Pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside Radio City Music Hall and some interrupted the event several times as late-night host Stephen Colbert hosted a conversation with the three presidents, according to reporters on the scene.

  • The demonstrators were escorted from the room, but not before they voiced their anger at Biden's handling of the war in Gaza, according to a pool report. One yelled "obscenities about Russia and Ukraine."

Details: Per the pool report, Biden responded to one disruption by saying: "That's alright, let them go. ... there are too many innocent victims, Israeli and Palestinian."

  • He again defended Israel's actions against Hamas following the Oct. 7 attack, but said: "We've got to get more food and medicine, supplies into the Palestinians. ... We must, in fact, stop the effort that is resulting in significant deaths of innocent civilians, particularly children."

What they're saying: Both Obama and Clinton defended Biden and emphasized the difficult decisions presidents have to make, according to the pool report.

  • "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," Obama said.
  • "I think people understandably oftentimes want to feel a certain surety in terms of how those decisions are made. But a president doesn't have that luxury," Biden's predecessor said before protesters again disrupted the conversation.
  • Obama turned on the protesters and said: "No, no listen. You can't just talk and not listen. ... That's what the other side does. And it is possible 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."

Go deeper: Biden's fundraiser with Obama and Clinton highlights Trump's cash crunch

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