Trump stop at NYPD officer's wake stirs sharp contrast with Biden’s long-planned Radio City fundraiser, experts say

NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump on Thursday headed to the tearful Long Island wake for slain NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller while President Joe Biden jetted into the city for a swanky Manhattan fundraiser.

That could amount to a split screen made in MAGA heaven as Trump seeks to take advantage of the contrast, political analysts said.

Trump made little effort to hide his hopes to use the emotional police event to reinforce his focus on crime and appeal to working-class voters as he makes makes another run at the White House.

“It’s a natural for Trump and should play well with his MAGA base, which includes the very Republican area of Massapequa where (Diller) hailed from,” said Lawrence Levy, a Hofstra University professor who studies political trends in suburbia.

Whether such a move will flip votes in favor of Trump as early voting gets underway in deep-blue New York remains to be seen.

“Biden is massively underwater to Trump on the issue of crime and … he’s trying to capitalize on that,” said Doug Heye, a Republican strategist.

A somber Trump made a brief appearance at the wake for Diller. He emerged to pay tribute to the slain cop’s widow and infant son, flanked by ashen-faced police officers standing outside in a chilly rain.

“The Diller family will never be the same,” Trump said. “Such a sad, sad event. Such a horrible thing. And it’s happening all too often.”

“We need to get back to law and order,” he added.

Political pundits say Trump could have hardly asked for better timing.

The planned wake for Diller was scheduled just hours before Biden was set to appear at a very different kind of event: a big-money campaign fundraiser featuring A-list celebrities like Lizzo and Stephen Colbert and former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

That could make Biden appear like the candidate of Manhattan liberal elites while Trump mixes with grieving police officers in a heavily Republican corner of Long Island, where the GOP has made gains in recent years.

“He’s selling the message that I’m here for the regular people and that plays to his advantage,” said Doug Muzzio, a New York political analyst. “The image of him celebrating an officer’s life may have resonance to many people.”

Jacob Rubashkin, an analyst with Inside Electons, said Trump wants to underline his working-class New York roots, even though he’s a billionaire who lives in Florida.

“No matter where he gets his mail, the guy is a New Yorker, and he’s going to want to show face in his city,” Rubashkin said.

The White House is clearly keen to defuse any political advantage Trump might seek to gain from the two rivals’ dueling visits to New York.

Biden called Mayor Eric Adams earlier Thursday and asked the mayor to pass on condolences to the family of Diller.

On Air Force One en route to New York, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden has been a strong supporter of law enforcement and has presided over declining crime rates since taking office.

“Our hearts go out to the officer’s family and the broader NYPD family who have tragically lost one of their own,” said White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre. “The president grieves for them and honors their sacrifice.”

Trump’s campaign showed no signs of pulling punches about what it called a “stark contrast” between Trump and Biden.

“Trump will be honoring the legacy of Officer Diller and paying respects,” said Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesman. “Meanwhile, the Three Stooges—Biden, Obama, and Clinton—will be at a glitzy fundraiser in the city with their elitist, out-of-touch celebrity benefactors.”

Diller, 31, a married father of a 1-year-old son, was fatally shot Monday during a traffic stop in Far Rockaway. His wake will be held in suburban Massapequa, a conservative GOP stronghold.

Diller was the first New York City police officer killed in the line of duty in two years. Two NYPD officers, Wilbert Mora, 27, and Jason Rivera, 22, were slain during an ambushed in a Harlem apartment building after responding to a domestic disturbance call on Jan. 21, 2022.

Biden visited the NYPD headquarters and spoke to officers and top brass in the days after that double cop-killing.