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In a coronavirus world, Biden seeks ways to close money gap with Trump

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Joe Biden is starting to get the help he needs to compete with President Donald Trump’s massive election war chest, although the Democrat has a huge shortfall to make up in the coming months. Former Barack Obama staffers are planning to raise money for the putative Democratic presidential nominee. Ex-rivals like Elizabeth Warren are using their donor lists on his behalf, and the former vice president’s campaign could soon strike a deal with the Democratic National Committee that would allow it to rake in much larger donations.

Those are positive signs for a campaign that has worked furiously to figure out ways to bring in cash since the coronavirus pandemic put millions of Americans out of work and forced the 2020 White House race into a digital-only environment.

Even with the newfound support, Biden remains at a significant financial disadvantage heading into the Nov. 3 election against Trump, a prodigious fundraiser who has been raising money for the general election since 2017. “I think right now it’s very hard to raise money,” said John Morgan, a trial lawyer from Florida and a longtime political donor. “People don’t know if they’re financially ruined or not yet.” The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee said this week they had raised a whopping $212 million this year, giving the president $240 million in cash in hand. Biden’s campaign has yet to announce its fundraising total for March. It had about $12 million on hand as of Feb. 29, before his decisive victories in Democratic nominating contests. Biden was not a fundraising juggernaut even before the coronavirus upended politics, finding real success only in the closing months of the Democratic presidential race. His campaign is now hoping that endorsements this week from his onetime boss, Obama, as well as former rivals Bernie Sanders and Warren, will give its fundraising a shot in the arm, helping the campaign access a wider network of deep-pocketed donors. Biden told donors on Thursday the backing from his ex-competitors helped him bring in $5.25 million over two days this week. Obama’s former finance chair, Rufus Gifford, who helped his 2012 campaign collect more than $1 billion, is setting up an online fundraising event on May 1 for Biden involving officials who worked for the former Democratic president.

“The goal will be to re-assemble the team that propelled the Obama/Biden team to victory twice,” Gifford wrote in a recruitment email seen by Reuters. U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, a former White House rival and a strong contender to be Biden’s vice presidential pick, participated in an online fundraiser for Biden last week that brought in $150,000 – exceeding the event’s $100,000 target, said event co-host Kimberly Marteau Emerson, a principal at KME Consulting. Biden’s campaign also plans to host a series of virtual events in the coming weeks featuring celebrities such as Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth, singer Melissa Etheridge and tennis great Billie Jean King, as well as ex-candidate Cory Booker and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, said Tom Sacks-Wilner, who serves on Biden’s finance committee. Sanders, who amassed a huge grassroots army of supporters, has not committed to raising funds for Biden.

 

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