Firefighters union leader calls criticism over Biden's fundraising 'meaningless'

The head of the International Association of Fire Fighters is dismissing flak over a recent fundraiser for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Pressure grows to cut diplomatic red tape for Afghans left behind President Biden is making the world a more dangerous place MORE following the announcement of Biden's 2020 candidacy last week. 

“I really believe that was a meaningless criticism,” Harold Schaitberger told Hill.TV on Monday, referring to remarks from fellow White House contenders Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn defense of share buybacks Democrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo In Washington, the road almost never taken MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie Sanders Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case In defense of share buybacks Progressives seething over Biden's migrant policies MORE (I-Vt.). 

“The fact of the matter is I think he showed very quickly and measurably that he has the ability to raise the funds that you need in order to run a competitive campaign,” said Schaitberger, whose labor group officially endorsed Biden's candidacy early Monday. 

Biden’s campaign announced on Friday that the former vice president raised $6.3 million within the first 24 hours after launching his presidential campaign, marking the largest first-day haul of any 2020 candidate in the crowded Democratic field.

According to his campaign, Biden raised 107,431 online donations from more than 96,000 individual donors across the country. The Wall Street Journal reported that about $700,000 of those donations came from a private fundraiser in Philadelphia. 

Warren and Sanders, both of whom have established their careers as critics of Wall Street and big banks, took a swipe at Biden over the fundraiser. They have also touted their grassroots fundraising efforts and rejection of donations from corporate PACs and lobbyists. 

In an email to supporters following Biden’s fundraising announcement, Warren highlighted that Biden attended “a swanky private fundraiser” that was hosted by wealthy donors, including Comcast executive David Cohen. 

“In the first 24 hours of his presidential campaign (welcome to the race!), Joe Biden raised $6.3 million,” Warren wrote. “How did Joe Biden raise so much money in one day? Well, it helps that he hosted a swanky private fundraiser for wealthy donors at the home of the guy who runs Comcast's lobbying shop.”

Sanders sent out a similar fundraising email to his supporters with the subject line “Joe Biden.”

“It's a big day in the Democratic primary and we’re hoping to end it strong." Sanders wrote. "Not with a fundraiser in the home of a corporate lobbyist, but with an overwhelming number of individual donations in response to today's news.”

Schaitberger argued that the 2020 Democratic primary in the end is about who has the best chance of winning the 2020 election. 

“This ultimately has to come back to the point of who can actually win and Joe Biden is that candidate,” the union leader said.

Biden is widely considered to be the frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic race. 

According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 13 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning respondents would vote for the former vice president. Sanders came in second place with 9 percent of the vote.

—Tess Bonn