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Biden’s focus on big donors backfiring

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Biden’s focus on big donors backfiring


Joe Biden's emphasis on old-school fundraising tactics such as in-person events with well-heeled donors is coming at the expense of smaller but more plentiful online donations, suggesting his approach to a crucial part of winning the presidency is wanting.


The former vice president's 2020 campaign recently sent out a frantic plea to supporters pointing to the fundraising success of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic socialist crusader whose campaign has been fueled virtually entirely by small donors. Sanders, whose support in polls has plateaued in recent months, is credited with spurring an impressive digital fundraising operation that currently boasts roughly $30 million cash-on-hand, whereas Biden had just under $11 million.


Biden's campaign schedules frequently list his fundraising events, held in locales such as the Hamptons on New York's Long Island, Sun Valley, Idaho, and La Jolla, California, areas that boast some of the nation's most expensive real estate.


In a sense, it's not a surprising approach for a candidate, 76, first elected to the Senate in 1972 at age 29. During Biden's 36 years in the chamber, mingling with high-dollar donors was a natural way to vacuum up campaign cash.


"When Biden got into politics, the word 'grassroots' hadn't even been invented. He's not doing anything to excite the grassroots, so that's why the grassroots fundraising numbers should be concerning," Democratic strategist Scott Ferson told the Washington Examiner. "His strategy to win the primary is just power through, but the fuel is running low. His braintrust is on the older side, so they're not very innovative," when it comes to fundraising strategies.


The lack of small donors is driving concerns in the Biden campaign, already hyper-focused on fundraising due to the assumption that the Democratic primary would run long, in addition to President Trump's likely billion-dollar reelection war chest, according to those familiar with Biden's thinking who spoke with the Washington Examiner.


"Look at someone like Buttigieg's cash on hand [totaled at $22.6 million as of July 1]. It's higher than Biden's. That's really worrying the Biden campaign," said a former senior campaign official for Biden's former boss, President Barack Obama. "Right now, Biden doesn't have the infrastructure to beat Trump. The reality is we're dealing with a 76-year-old man. This should keep Democrats up at night."


Biden's focus on wealthy donors have also opened him up to criticisms from the left, who have pointed to the optics of decrying income inequality at multi-million dollar Manhattan apartments. Candidates like Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have slowly chipped away at Biden's lead in early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire as they both shun private fundraisers.


Beyond generating a lack of enthusiasm from his own base, Biden's sluggish campaign schedule has also angered key Democratic constituencies. Even this week, news broke that Biden would not be attending the Democratic National Committee's summer meeting in San Francisco. Meanwhile, 13 other 2020 Democrats have agreed to speak delegates at the event.


In June, Biden was one of the only candidates who decided to skip out on the California Democratic State Convention. That led activists to pass out "Where's Joe?" flyers and even an apology by Biden.


A Washington Examiner analysis conducted in June found that Biden was holding half the events of his rivals, despite not having a day job, like Sens. Sanders and Warren, along with several other current elected officials in the 2020 Democratic field.


Behind closed doors at his fundraisers, Biden has ignored local reporters in favor of his small group of campaign pool reporters. Yet even in these smaller, more intimate meetings, Biden has uttered some of his most memorable gaffes of the campaign.


At a Seattle fundraiser in June, Biden earned jeers from the audience after claiming that homophobia was routinely tolerated as late as 2014.


That same month, at a separate fundraiser in Manhattan, Biden reminisced on his time working with segregationist Democrats in the Senate. Those remarks have continued to haunt his campaign and were responsible for his brief dip in polls after Harris confronted him during the first series of Democratic primary debates.


Campaign cash raised by newer, more innovative online techniques is relatively sparse. A Politico analysis of the former vice president's digital fundraising numbers found that over 60% of the $13.2 million Biden raised online came during the first week of his campaign, back in April. While Biden has raised over $20 million in total, much of that money stems from ritzy dinners and cocktail receptions overwhelmingly attended by the rich.


Biden's median daily online fundraising at the conclusion of June was just short of $67,000, below 2020 rivals like South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg at $186,000, Sanders at $127,000, and Warren at $75,000.

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I'm an older guy who started a family late. Now I have two kids who are in college and with them I inherit some of what they are learning, what they don't yet know, and the idea of social ills that helped to divide our wonderful country as a whole. 

Generically speaking, and in broad terms, a lot of people these days are smarter in a lot of different ways - which is good, and yet in someways, it also shows the generic problems we face in our educational system. 

My own kids are great. They care, they are luckily middle class. They are also taking classes in college that detail some of the structural problems inherent in our current society that are based in the past with the lack of having a government that cared about the outcome of all people - representatives who had been controlled more by big money, than the folks they were voted into office to represent. 

The political system being one big thumbprint stopping a whole lot of progress. Just take a look at what people going to college pursue. If you go to college these days you are very lucky.

You either have the backing of at least one good parent, possibly two, and you might have been enriched by the prospect of having some idea of what type of education will allow you to hopefully someday make it in this world.


If you're really smart, and if you come from a poor family, hopefully your own magical merit will get you into a great college who will pay for your tuition costs. Are kids that are 17 and 18 expected to figure any of this out? Well we would be surprised about young people in a number of ways. One thing, kids talk to one another, sadly mostly online, and not so much one one one. Kind of like people in Congress these days. Kind of like the difference between those who watch MSNBC and Fox News for information, and yeah, mostly entertainment it seems.


I am talking about motivation. The motivation to learn and to take up the reigns of change. In the US we do live in an advanced very rich nation. And by that, it should mean the motivating factor should be about progress and not so much about being a mathematician who decides that you can make a lot more on Wall Street, an old guy like myself would only hope.


I have been around like Biden. I've seen the lack of change. The hilarious nature of taking one step towards progress, and then seeing yet another one and a half step backwards again.


How can you invent progress that moves forward without an informed electorate? 

Well when you're around a lot of smart kids, you might get motivated a bit regarding the pursuit of higher education and it's possible outcome someday.


And this includes all people, skilled trades, technology, responsibility, the environment, and fairness overall.


What exactly is success? Is a college degree in electronic engineering more competitive, and why. And it is the face of college and the offerings of a college curriculum in certain areas. And who wants to study law or even medicine these days? Take a look at the background of the students in these areas, take a good hard look. 


These examples are not saying anything bad about the education. Rather, it is who participates, and why. Any way that's what my kids and their friends tell me about. Yes, they are young. But still their minds are ripe to learn. A lot of young peoples minds are.



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I apologize for speaking from the soapbox. It is the same soapbox I grew up with as a kid. I wasn't necessarily left or right, I just always wanted the best outcome. I heard about war, and know a lot about the Vietnam War. My folks grew up in a different time. In WWII my dad, a marine watched in San Francisco as boats that seemingly could barely float sent supplies to Europe.

We are that old. Robert Frost meant that we already were that old, and enough time certain had already passed long before he himself was a boy and first came to learning about who We could one day be. What does an education in any part of the world really signify, is what I mean.



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