Obama and Biden, reunited again, rake in more than $11 million at virtual fundraiser

LA Times, June 23, 2020

Obama and Biden, reunited again, rake in more than $11 million at virtual fundraiser

By Melanie Mason Staff Writer 

In his first foray into this year’s presidential race, President Obama flexed some major fundraising muscle on Tuesday for Joe Biden.

The duo raised more than $11 million, more than half of which came from 175,000 grass-roots donors, making it Biden’s single biggest finance event so far, according to his campaign.

Obama, who endorsed his former vice president after Biden had effectively locked up the Democratic nomination in April, spoke repeatedly of his audience’s sense of “urgency” in seeking political change.

“I am here to say the help is on the way if we do the work, because there’s nobody I trust more to be able to heal this country and get back on track than my dear friend Joe Biden,” he said to the 120,000 people logged on to the event.

His tone was markedly sharper when it came to his successor to the Oval Office. 

Without naming President Trump, he denounced his administration as one that “has gone at the very foundations of who we are and who we should be. That suggests facts don’t matter, science doesn’t matter. That suggests that a deadly disease is fake news. That sees the Justice Department as simply an extension and arm of the personal concerns of the president. That actively promotes division. And considers some people in this country more real as Americans than others.”

He described the current surge of political activism, particularly from young people, as a “great awakening,” pushing back against the Trump administration’s “shambolic, disorganized, mean-spirited approach to governance” as well as issues that have challenged the country for centuries. 

Still, Obama urged voters not to get complacent.

“We can’t be complacent or smug or sense that somehow it’s so obvious that this president hasn’t done a good job because, look, he won once,” he said. He said that whatever actions people have done so far are “not enough. And I hold myself and Michelle and my kids to the same standard.”

The event capped off a strong fundraising streak for the presumptive Democratic nominee; a virtual finance event with California Sen. Kamala Harris this month brought in $3.5 million, and another with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren netted $6 million. Both women, who were his rivals for the Democratic nomination, are seen as top prospects to be his vice presidential pick.

And last week, the Biden campaign announced it raised more than $80 million in May, surpassing Trump and the Republican Party, which brought in $74 million. 

Nevertheless, Biden has a steep climb to match the resources of the incumbent president: Trump and the Republicans have reported having $265 million cash on hand as of the end of May, while Biden and the Democratic Party have roughly $130 million in the bank.

The Biden campaign, clearly eager to capitalize on its ties to the still-popular former president, quickly rolled out new swag to mark the pair’s return to the (virtual) trail: a T-shirt emblazoned with a photo of Obama and Biden jogging in shirtsleeves at the White House.

And lest anyone forget the friendship the two men developed during their time in office, the fundraiser’s closing moments, after roughly 90 minutes, underscored their bond.

“Love you, Joe,” Obama said. 

“Love you too, pal,” Biden replied.

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