Democratic donors come off the sidelines for Biden

Democratic donors are coming off the bench and throwing their financial support behind Joe Biden now that the primary has narrowed to a two-way race between the former vice president and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

In interviews with The Hill, major donors and fundraisers said their backing for Biden will give the front-runner a major advantage over Sanders, who raised an impressive $46 million in February. Biden raised $18 million during the same period.

But Biden’s campaign said it has raised $22 million since his Super Tuesday victories on March 3, and donors expect him to have his best quarter yet when the figures are tallied after March 31. 

“It’s going to be day and night,” one fundraiser predicted. “Everyone always said Biden’s a poor fundraiser but they ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Jon Vein, a prominent Democratic donor who held fundraisers this cycle for former candidates like Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, said he has begun fundraising for Biden and sees the check-writing picking up steam.

Until now, many donors were sitting on the sidelines, Vein said.

“There were just too many candidates,” he said. “Now that the process has done what it’s designed to do, people are rallying and enthusiastic.”

“I believe we now have our candidate, and Tuesday should make that even more clear,” Vein said.

Biden has a double-digit lead over Sanders nationally, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS that was released Monday. The survey showed Biden leading Sanders 52 percent to 36 percent among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independent voters.

While Biden has struggled with fundraising overall since his campaign began last year, he has seen a surge of support from major donors since his decisive victory in South Carolina on Feb. 29, when he was able to turn his campaign around. The donations multiplied after his string of wins, some of them unexpected, in the Super Tuesday states last week.

But the Sanders campaign fundraising is highlighting that the “political establishment is frantically trying to stop us,” as it said in an email to small-dollar supporters late last week.

“They’re now fully behind their candidate, Joe Biden, and their super PACs are spending big on advertising against us. So we need a lot of donations today in order to take them on and win,” the email said.

Sanders has also doubled down in his fight against Biden’s campaign, which he said last week is “heavily supported by the corporate establishment.”

The former vice president has received money from dozens of billionaires, the Vermont independent highlighted.

“Our campaign has received more campaign contributions from more Americans averaging $18.50 than any campaign in the history of our country at this point in time,” Sanders said. “Does anyone seriously believe that a president backed by the corporate world is going to bring about the changes in this country that working families and the middle class and lower income people desperately need?” 

On Friday evening, when Biden called into a fundraiser at a home in Bethesda, Md., after announcing news of his big five-day haul, he seemed to look past Sanders and ahead to the general election.

“It’s going to be hard, this guy’s going to come at me, and throw everything including the kitchen sink,” Biden said on the call, according to a pool report. “I don’t mean Bernie, I mean in the general election.”

Biden also noted that the primary against Sanders will be grueling. 

“But Bernie is going to throw, he’ll at least throw the dishwasher at me,” he said, laughing. “We’re going to be OK. I just have to keep steady and moving forward and just lay out what we’re going to be talking about in a coherent way.” 

Behind the scenes, some donors and other observers have wondered whether Biden will be able to sustain attacks from Trump and Sanders at the same time, a problem former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced in 2016. 

They also wonder if Biden can avoid the gaffes he is prone to make particularly in major moments in debates.

“There’s always a concern,” one donor said. “And it’s a big concern.”

But Adam Parkhomenko, who co-founded the Ready for Hillary super PAC before the 2016 cycle, said Biden has the advantage over Sanders.

“He’s the front-runner again,” Parkhomenko said. “I imagine no one in his camp will be taking that for granted.

Tags Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton Joe Biden

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