NEW YORK (AP) — President Joe Biden zipped through a trio of tony fundraisers in Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon, raising cash, confounding traffic and framing the 2024 election as "not about me" but rather stopping GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

Blocks of interlocking bicycle racks cleared the roads for Biden's motorcade in solidly Democratic New York as he packed in three fundraisers in four hours. And at each event, Biden kept the focus squarely on his likely GOP opponent.

"There is one existential threat and it's Donald Trump," Biden said at his first stop, a wood-paneled apartment with an ornate fireplace and a baby grand piano. "It's not about me, it's about Trump. He will try to undo everything we've done. Make no mistake about it."

The 81-year-old Biden was preaching to the converted as he warned about climate change and his likely opponent, who he previously beat in 2020. The focus on Trump is a sign of how unusual this election could be, with the incumbent trying to make the campaign a referendum on his predecessor.

While Biden was in New York, Senate Republicans back in Washington blocked a deal on Wednesday to fund additional border security measures as well as send aid to allies in Ukraine and Israel. Biden leaned hard into lambasting Trump for lobbying against the deal and lamented that Russian President Vladimir Putin "is on the balls of his heels and what are we doing, stepping back?"

Trump posted his difference of opinion on social media, writing, "A COSTLY NEW BILL IS NOT NECESSARY!"

During his second stop, at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, Biden swallowed a cough drop that only seemed to make him cough more frequently. Yet he didn't let that stop him from making his point.

"Now imagine the nightmare of a Trump return to office," he said, citing how Trump had said people need to "get over it" after an Iowa school shooting. "Just get over it? What the hell is he doing?"

Biden tried to play down concerns among some voters about his age at the third fundraiser, saying one advantage is that it gives him wisdom.

The president got in some people-watching during his visit. When he spotted Robert De Niro among the attendees at his third event, he stopped and said "you're really here" and then moved on.

For all those Manhattan residents stuck lining the closed streets, Biden has plans to come back to New York for a bigger splash on March 28. He'll team up for another fundraiser in the city with former Democratic presidents, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.



By WILL WEISSERT Associated Press