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Biden Is Wrapping A Campaign Fundraising Blitz Aimed At Making A Bold Early Statement


Biden is wrapping a campaign fundraising blitz aimed at making a bold early statement
By ZEKE MILLER AP White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has cozied up to high-dollar donors at posh Upper East Side penthouses and on West Coast decks gussied up with floral arrangements and flags in recent weeks. He has two more fundraisers in New York on Thursday that will close out an end-of-quarter campaign blitz his team believes will put him on strong financial footing for a contest they expect to set new spending records.
Friday’s events will be Biden’s 9th and 10th fundraising receptions of the past two weeks, numbers that have been matched by Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden, and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. The Biden campaign has been mum on how much he has raised at the often free-wheeling events, but it is broadcasting confidence in the size of the haul ahead of the July 15 reporting date.
The president is also marshaling the whole of the Democratic Party to dial for dollars, enlisting help from up-and-comers like Govs. Gavin Newsom of California and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and more established figures like former President Barack Obama. Obama on Thursday will be featured in a new Biden campaign video meant to encourage small-dollar online donations ahead of the Friday donation deadline. Allies insist that despite polls showing lagging enthusiasm among the Democratic base for the 80-year-old president, the party is solidly behind him.
“I’ve been doing this for a really long time for a number of presidents and presidential candidates,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood mogul, Democratic mega-donor and co-chair of Biden’s campaign. “I’ve never seen from top to bottom, the Democratic enterprise kick into gear this way, from President Obama, governors, senators, congressmen, just across the board — he’s gotten outstanding support.”
Aides say they are trying to motivate donors — especially small-dollar contributors — to dig deeper into their pockets early on.
The recent blitz was also a function of Biden’s day job, Katzenberg said, adding that “his first, second and third job is to run the country.” Biden’s foreign trips in April and May, and the weeks-long showdown over raising the nation’s debt limit, kept him in Washington. And Biden is set to travel to Europe next month, giving the campaign a narrow window before the historically slow summer season to fit in donor events.
While the first quarter is widely viewed as a benchmark of campaign strength, Katzenberg said there is “no urgency right now” for Biden to raise or spend vast sums since he lacks a credible primary threat, and the election is 16 months away. Still, Biden is aiming to make a statement with the early totals.
Katzenberg said there were “very optimistic signals” for the Biden campaign’s ability to comfortably exceed its 2020 fundraising levels, including strong numbers of first-time Biden donors. Other campaign aides and allies have grown more bullish about the soon-to-be-reported haul.
The president’s fundraisers, with limited press access and closed to cameras, feature a far less guarded Biden than the public often sees. The president sometimes uses them to test-drive a new campaign line or dish out more candid remarks than in formal events.
He usually starts at a lectern but often shifts to using his preferred handheld mic, which allows him to roam the room and speak more directly to guests.
Biden often makes a personal nod to the hosts — in a fundraiser at the New York home of Greek shipping magnate George Logothetis in May, Biden noted that the lessons he learned from his family as a child weren’t any different than “if my mom had been ‘Bidenopoulos’ instead of ‘Finnegan’.”
Though his aides make it a point not to engage with prospective 2024 opponents, Biden often doesn’t shy away from criticism of those seeking the Republican presidential nominee at these events.
“I’ve been stunned at the damage done by the last administration to us internationally and globally. I mean, I’ve been stunned how deep it goes,’ Biden said during a fundraiser in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on Tuesday evening.
His criticisms aren’t reserved just for his predecessor.
“Did you ever think you’d go through a time when the number two contender on another team was banning books?” Biden said in a veiled reference to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, during a fundraiser earlier this month in Greenwich, Connecticut.
When a baby squealed while Biden was talking to donors in Chicago on Wednesday about Republicans, the president ad libbed, “I don’t blame you kiddo.”
His sometimes rambling remarks are full of anecdotes about his lengthy time in public office, peppered with references to issues that animate Democrats like tougher gun restrictions and abortion rights. But in a smaller setting where cameras are barred, the president can open up, such as a rare reference to his personal views on abortion when speaking about the issue at a separate Chevy Chase fundraiser on Tuesday.
“I’m a practicing Catholic,” Biden said. “I’m not big on abortion, but guess what? Roe vs. Wade got it right.” At the same event, he misspoke when talking about the Ukraine war, referring instead to Iraq.
Last week, Biden sparked a round of diplomatic Sturm und Drang from Beijing after calling Chinese President Xi Jinping a “dictator” at a fundraiser — just hours after Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Xi as part of a bid to thaw tensions. Biden insisted that the epithet wouldn’t affect the relationship — though others in his administration pointedly refused to repeat it.
“He wants to shake every hand and chat with everyone,” said Katzenberg. “When there’s something that is on his mind, he’ll say it — and you know, that’s what makes him authentic.”
Last week in the San Francisco area, his fundraisers seemed to prove his argument that the U.S. economy has been favoring the wealthy. He attended events near homes whose Zillow price listings were about four times higher than an average U.S. worker’s lifetime earnings.
“Mr. President, trust me, this is a fancy crowd,” Newsom said at one event to polite laughter. “I know these folks.”
The president still tries to draw connections to a blue-collar past, even as he sketches big picture issues such as climate change, relations with China and the fate of democracy.
“How many of you are from smaller Midwestern towns?” he asked. “You know what happened when the factory closes. The soul of the community is lost. Not a joke.”
Breaking with the level of transparency followed by the Obama campaign when he was vice president, Biden’s campaign does not share the total amount raised from any individual event.
“The campaign will share its fundraising numbers when we submit our FEC filing next month,” said Biden campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz in a statement, referring to the Federal Election Commission. “We are encouraged by the strong response we are seeing from donors and our grassroots supporters, including a significant number of new donors since 2020 that support the president’s agenda for restoring democracy, freedom, and growing the economy by growing the middle class.”
He added: “While MAGA Republicans duke it out over extreme, divisive, and unpopular policies in their primary, we are ensuring that we have the resources needed to run an aggressive, winning campaign.”
Associated Press writers Seung Min Kim and Josh Boak contributed to this report.

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