“Here is the bottom line. It’s very simple: We need you. Our democracy needs you because it’s about our freedoms,” Biden told the cheering crowd.
But it’s unclear if that energy has translated into material fundraising success, especially when it comes to small-dollar donations. The campaign offered no clues about its debut, as it did immediately after launching in 2019. At the time, Biden faced a number of Democratic rivals, many of whom posted in real time how many they had collected for the campaign. .
There is a sensitivity in the campaign that the first issue could fuel a negative narrative, according to a donor involved in the campaign. Some major donors have not yet been asked to donate, according to this person.
Biden didn’t become a fundraising juggernaut until he entered the general election and took on Donald Trump. While he beat the Democratic field in the first 24 hours, he struggle to keep pace with rivals like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who built great war chests through donors who pledged to give small amounts regularly. Biden’s position improved significantly later in the primary process as his rivals pulled out of the race amid poor performances and he solidified their supporters.
A campaign official maintained that the 2024 fundraising operation was well positioned this cycle and that the Democratic National Committee had raised $276 million for midterms, a record for a midterm cycle. The campaign had already achieved a seven-figure ad buy over two weeks that was taking place in six battleground states.
The Friday night reception drew more than 100 Democratic donors and officials to the lavish Salamander Hotel on DC’s southwest waterfront. Among those elected were the governors. Gavin Newsom from California, Wes Moore from Maryland and Phil Murphy from New Jersey. The first Gen Z congressman, 26-year-old Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), was also in attendance, as were several of Biden’s newly announced campaign co-chairs, including prominent fundraiser Jeffrey Katzenberg. Democrat and the only co-chairman who is not an elected official.
As he left the White House on dark Friday, a number of members of Biden’s inner circle joined him along the way, including the president’s adviser, Steve Ricchetti, and the president’s senior adviser, Mike Donilon.
Biden declined to mention former President Donald Trump by name in his remarks to the crowd. Instead, he lambasted “MAGA Republicans…trying to roll us back.”
Attendees interviewed by POLITICO noted the energy in the room. Former Republican Representative Jim Greenwood said the crowd gave Biden a standing ovation.
“I think everyone in the room was watching to see if he had made a single blunder,” he said. “He did not do it.”
Dick Harpootlian, a South Carolina state senator who band for Biden in 2020, said he thought most attendees seemed to believe Trump would be the Republican nominee.
“It’s a motivating factor,” he said. “The two types of high-level people are him and DeSantis, and it’s Trump and Trump-lite.”
Christopher Cadelago contributed to this report.