Top donors and even people who have always supported Biden are getting antsy because it’s clear that most Democrats want someone else to be the party’s nominee in 2024.
WASHINGTON — Donors to President Joe Biden are nervous about his chances of getting re-elected, upset that they don’t get to talk to him much, and in some cases ready to stop giving him money in 2024.
One veteran party fundraiser said, “In private, I see a lot of donors being very nervous.” “After the midterms, there will be a lot of pressure on Biden to step down.”
Even people who have always supported Biden are getting tired of him. This is happening at the same time that a clear majority of Democrats want someone else to be their presidential nominee in two years.
For now, Biden is helped by the fact that Trump was once president.
After talking to more than a dozen Democratic insiders, it’s clear that donors are in a tough spot with Biden. Some people feel like they aren’t getting the attention they deserve. A virtual meeting between the president and major fundraisers was set up quickly on Wednesday night. Many big donors and bundlers of money would rather have a different nominee in 2024, but they are sticking with Biden because they think he is the best candidate the party has against Trump.
But if Trump doesn’t run, there are worries that Biden wouldn’t be able to beat a younger Republican candidate like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and donors would be more likely to support and recruit other candidates. Like the veteran party fundraiser, these sources spoke on the condition of anonymity to give an honest assessment of the mood.
Importantly, powerful buck-rakers think that the White House doesn’t care about them, which gives them less reason to back Biden if he looks weak after the midterms. Democratic insiders say that the Biden team hasn’t done much to connect with donors, either because they haven’t set up a White House tour, a “grip-and-grin” photo with the president, or an invite to one of his events outside of Washington. This has made many of the people who helped Biden win the presidency in 2020 very angry, and he needs their full support if he wants to keep it.
But people who work for the White House and the Democratic National Committee say that Biden’s focus is right where it should be.
White House spokesman Chris Meagher said, “President Biden is focused on getting results for working families and building the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. He wants to get Americans back to work, make our communities safer, and cut costs for families.” “MAGA congressional Republicans are pushing an extreme agenda: putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, proposing a national ban on abortion, and opposing common sense proposals to raise the age to buy an assault weapon.”
Still, one person who raises money for a political party doesn’t understand how the White House does what seems like the simplest of political tasks. A group of Biden’s supporters didn’t get invitations to his party on the South Lawn for the Fourth of July. So, the fundraiser asked if someone, anyone, at the White House could at least set up a phone call with them to say thank you and make them feel appreciated. This person said that White House staff said no. “Are you f—ing kidding me?” the person asked. “You’ll probably ask me soon to get them to write another check. It’s not too hard to do.”
Cabinet members sometimes show up in a city without warning to give a speech. This makes it hard for Biden’s supporters to set up the kind of quick meetings on the airport tarmac that make donors feel appreciated.
Even people who are very loyal see trouble ahead if Biden’s team doesn’t do a better job of getting his friends to vote for him.
“He needs to fire someone,” said South Carolina state senator and former state party leader Dick Harpootlian, who works with Biden.
“I don’t know who’s making the calls—whether it’s the chief of staff, Jen O’Malley Dillon, or Anita Dunn—but the job isn’t getting done,” he said, naming, in order, Biden’s top aide, Ron Klain, his deputy chief of staff, and a senior adviser who has worked in both the White House and the private sector.
Donors who spoke to NBC News said that Biden’s virtual meeting with his top 2020 campaign backers on Wednesday was rare. During the meeting, the president told the donors why they should support him and raise money for Democrats, according to several insiders who dialled in.
He talked about how Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Al Qaeda, was killed last weekend. He said that the issue of abortion rights will help his party in the midterms and that most Americans don’t agree with Trump’s “MAGA” agenda. He said this by pointing to a victory for abortion rights supporters in Kansas on Tuesday.
Some people who were there said that Biden’s speech implied that donors don’t need to worry because he is still their best bet for 2024.
A Biden adviser said that the president’s message was just about getting donors excited about the midterm elections.
“This week’s call didn’t show that anyone was upset,” the adviser said. “It was a great chance and part of his regular activities leading up to a big week. He is still making his case for the choice in the election…. It was a sneak peek at what he would say in the fall.”
Democrats are worried, though, and Biden didn’t answer any questions.
One longtime Democratic donor said, “There are some donors who say Biden is only our best candidate if it’s Trump.”
The Biden adviser wouldn’t say if or how Trump’s decision would affect the president’s decision to run for re-election, but he did point out that Biden has said in the past that he’s looking forward to a rematch.
Biden told an Israeli news outlet last month, “I’m not making any predictions, but if there were a second race against Trump, I would not be disappointed.” He has always said that he wants to run for a second term, but he has often added that he can’t control everything.
Donor complaints, big and small, are always a part of running for president. When they need money, candidates who want to win give fundraisers a lot of time and attention. But once a president moves into the White House, they are often too busy to talk to people. Other presidents used trusted people in politics to help them with their political goals.
Some fundraisers say that what’s different about Biden is that the White House operation has ignored a network of donors that is important to his chances of getting elected. Another Democratic fundraiser said that donors who don’t like Biden’s campaign just give potential Democratic candidates more to talk about if Biden’s campaign plane doesn’t take off. At the same time, more and more Democratic lawmakers are not supporting their own party’s president for re-election.
“People are mad enough that they want that to happen,” the fundraiser said, referring to the fact that lawmakers haven’t rushed to back Biden in 2024. “For something like that, there shouldn’t be any oxygen, but there is.”
Govs. Gavin Newsom of California and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, for example, have stepped up to appeal to progressive activists across the country on issues like gun control and abortion where Biden has disappointed donors and activists. Newsom has run ads against the Republican governors of Florida and Texas, two states with a lot of delegates to the Democratic presidential conventions.
White House officials have used Covid protocols as a reason to limit Biden’s access for a long time. In the last few weeks, Biden has tested positive twice.
But some of his old friends say that he has never cared about what his supporters need. They also say that Biden’s political advisers think he doesn’t need big donors because he raised so much money from small donors in 2020.
“They look at it and say, ‘Why do we have all these headaches when we raise all this money online?'” said one donor who was more worried about overconfidence than annoyed by the lack of access. “They learn the hard way that it didn’t matter who was running. People would have done anything to make sure that Donald Trump didn’t win. I don’t think they will raise nearly as much money as they did when they were running against Trump.
Party officials say that Biden’s meeting with donors on Wednesday and a holiday party at the White House last year are examples of him taking care of his friends.
In a statement, DNC Finance Chair Chris Korge said that President Biden’s many in-person and online events over the past 19 months have helped raise more money than ever before for the DNC. “I know he loves to see our supporters, many of whom have been his friends for a long time, and spend time with them. We appreciate him taking the time, and our donors know that he has a very important job as president of the United States.
Biden hasn’t said for sure that he’s running for re-election, and he hasn’t started setting up a campaign yet. Party leaders say they have raised a record amount of money for the DNC this midterm election cycle: nearly $250 million.
Still, fundraising efforts have been bumpy at times.
Alan Kessler, who has been a Democratic fundraiser in the Philadelphia area for a long time, said that he was asked to help set up a fundraiser for Biden and the DNC last month. He said that he didn’t think he could pull it off with only two weeks’ notice in the middle of the summer, when many reliable Democratic donors were on vacation at the Jersey Shore.
“When I got the call, I asked, ‘Are you kidding?'” he said. “We only had about two weeks to do this. Should I really get involved?”
Biden couldn’t go because he tested positive for Covid, which made things even worse.
Kessler said that even though there were problems, the event was a success.
He said, “I was very impressed by how people responded.” “It might be the kind of thing that makes people upset, but when it comes down to it, they were there to support the president.”
In fact, not everyone is against Biden’s political involvement.
Robert Wolf, a longtime Democratic fundraiser and an outside economic adviser to the White House, said, “The moment you become president, the relationship between donors and the most powerful person in the White House changes.” “It should be different. The president needs to make the economy and all other parts of the country his top priority.
But many people have doubts about Biden.
Minnesota Reps. Dean Phillips and Angie Craig have said in recent days that he shouldn’t run, and two New York Reps. who are chairs of House committees have said the same thing. During a debate this week, Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, who are competing for Democratic votes in a heated primary, both said they would not vote for him. Later, Maloney went on TV and talked directly to Biden. She said again that she doesn’t think he will run, but she promised to support him if he does.
“I’m sorry, Mr. President,” she said. “Run, I want you to. I think you won’t run, but if you do or if you don’t, I’ll be there 100% of the time.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is the most conservative Democrat in the Senate. When asked about a second term for Vice President Joe Biden, he has repeatedly said “no” and said this week on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” that he won’t talk about it. (The White House didn’t do itself any favours when Vice President Kamala Harris talked to local news outlets about a proposed Covid stimulus package in Manchin’s home state last year without telling him first. “Just not smart,” said a former Democratic Senate staffer who asked not to be named so he could be honest about a mistake.
It’s rare for a president to face such persistent political opposition from within his own party, but Biden, who served in the Senate for 36 years, has missed chances to get closer to the next generation of Democratic elected officials.
In May, Biden flew into Rep. Joaquin Castro’s district in San Antonio on his way to Uvalde, Texas, where there had been a mass school shooting. Even though Castro had told White House officials informally about the trip and been in touch with grieving families, he was never told that the president would be in his district, let alone invited to go to Uvalde with Biden, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
One person inside the Democratic Party said that Biden’s lacklustre political outreach, especially on Capitol Hill, puts him in a more dangerous position if his party loses big in the midterm elections in November.
This person said, “I don’t think they have a deep well of goodwill to fall back on.” “Because if the midterms are like 2010 or even 2014,” when Republicans crushed Democrats, “there will be a very loud call for Biden to step down.” People really worry that Trump will win.”
Some of Biden’s close friends also think that his inner circle has too much power and that his closest advisors don’t want to tell him about problems.
“No one around him is saying that this isn’t working,” one source said.
Biden still has time to get better, and the call with his supporters on Wednesday could have been a step in the right direction. Harpootlian was one of the people on the call. He said that what he saw and heard from the president gave him hope.
“Seeing him gave me new energy,” he said. “Biden was excited and full of life.”
“Joe Biden and his team are not on the same page,” Harpootlian added. “This is basic politics. People need to be touched. Joe Biden gets it, but the people who put people to death don’t.