Biden creates anti-Trump war chest

Biden creates anti-Trump war chest

US President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on December 20, 2023 and travels to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Almond Ngan | Afp | Getty Images

President Joe Biden’s $140 million campaign war chest has been bolstered by a group of loyal advisers and fundraisers that some party strategists are calling a “dream team” to defeat the likely Republican nominee, former President Donald Trump .

The recent fundraising boom can be attributed primarily to five people: media manager and Biden campaign co-chair Jeffrey Katzenberg, former State Department official Rufus Gifford, campaign finance director Michael Pratt, the longtime Biden adviser Jen O’Malley Dillon and Julie Chavez Rodriguez. the president’s 2024 campaign manager.

“They’ve put together a dream fundraising team, so to speak,” said Jim Messina, who served as former President Barack Obama’s campaign manager for his successful 2012 re-election campaign.

Katzenberg has spoken to donors to Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley and tried to get them to support Biden. “We are actively promoting them,” he said in a recent interview with CNBC.

“I’ve only done it with a handful of very high quality donors and I would just say it was well received. Nobody said, ‘Leave us alone, we don’t want to talk to you,'” Katzenberg said

Haley insists she will stay in the race even though polls show she is on track to lose Saturday’s Republican primary to Trump in her home state of South Carolina.

But Katzenberg pointed to Haley’s support in places like New Hampshire, where she won 43% of Republican primary votes, and said that suggests there is a part of the Republican Party ready to turn away from Trump.

CNBC spoke to more than a half-dozen Biden advisers, party fundraisers and Democratic strategists for this article, some of whom were granted anonymity to discuss private conversations. They described how key players in a constellation of groups — Biden’s campaign committee, joint fundraising committees, his top outside political action committee and the Democratic National Committee — amassed $140 million to put toward the president’s reelection.

Their efforts have given Biden a significant advantage in the money race over Trump, whose political fundraising is funding both his campaign and his lawyers in a variety of civil and criminal cases.

According to Federal Election Commission records, Trump’s campaign and his political allies had a total cash balance of $65 million at the start of the year. This came after about $50 million was paid to the former president’s lawyers in 2023.

“President Trump’s campaign is fueled by small dollar donors across the country from diverse backgrounds,” Karoline Leavitt, the national press secretary for Trump’s campaign, said in a statement to CNBC. “We are more confident than ever that he will retake the White House in November.”

Lively parties

Biden’s team’s success in building its fundraising efforts has become clearer over the past year, with a series of one-off private events each raising millions of dollars.

Already this week, Biden’s West Coast fundraiser has raised up to $10 million for the Biden Victory Fund at four different events, according to a person with direct knowledge of the total. The Biden Victory Fund raises money for the Biden campaign, the Democratic National Committee and various state parties.

According to the Biden campaign, three of these events so far have been hosted by entertainment executive Haim Saban, venture capitalist John Doerr and businessman Gordon Getty. According to an invitation, attorney Robert Klein, Danielle Guttman Klein and Steve Westly are co-hosting a Thursday event in Los Altos Hills, California.

In December, Biden attended an event in Los Angeles at the home of former U.S. Ambassador to Spain James Costos and interior designer Michael Smith. The 400 people on the guest list included movie moguls Steven Spielberg and Peter Chernin, and entertainment included a performance by musician Lenny Kravitz and a person with direct knowledge of the event, according to the invitation.

The evening ended up raising about $8.5 million for the Biden Victory Fund, this person said.

Building on that success, Pratt and a group of Biden’s advisers came up with the idea of ​​hosting a major fundraiser in New York in March with former Presidents Obama and Bill Clinton, these people said.

U.S. President Barack Obama (L), Vice President Joe Biden (C) and former President Bill Clinton chat before the start of a memorial service for U.S. Senator Robert Byrd at the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, July 2, 2010.

Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

A personal approach

Personal outreach from influential figures like Katzenberg, Gifford and others has also helped smooth the ruffled feathers of former Biden donors, some of whom were reportedly “pissed off” by the lack of attention the president-elect paid to his team after the 2020 election.

Now those donors are coming back to help, people familiar with the matter say. A Biden fundraiser says donors are returning to the team after being invited to various private events at the White House. This fundraiser recognized Gifford, among other things, for his contributions to improving donor outreach.

But it’s not just Biden’s appeal that is drawing some of these donors back to his camp. Donald Trump’s almost inevitable Republican nomination is at work here too.

“We have no choice,” said a previously frustrated Wall Street Biden fundraiser who is helping the president again after contacting Gifford and Katzenberg. “We can’t let Trump win.”

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2024-02-22 20:46:04