Cha-ching! Biden embraces his election-year fundraising role

Sep 30, 2022, 7:51 PM | Updated: Oct 2, 2022, 9:16 pm
FILE - President Joe Biden greets people after speaking during a Democratic National Committee even...

FILE - President Joe Biden greets people after speaking during a Democratic National Committee event at the National Education Association Headquarters, Sept. 23, 2022, in Washington. Biden is picking up the pace of his high-dollar fundraisers for party candidates and committees in the last stretch ahead of the midterms. The receptions have been one of the most visible ways Biden has been deployed this political season at a time when his approval ratings remain underwater and many Democrats aren’t eager to campaign with him. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

              FILE - Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden is seen on monitors as he speaks during a virtual grassroots fundraiser at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Del., Aug. 12, 2020. Biden is picking up the pace of his high-dollar fundraisers for party candidates and committees in the last stretch ahead of the midterms. The receptions have been one of the most visible ways Biden has been deployed this political season at a time when his approval ratings remain underwater and many Democrats aren’t eager to campaign with him. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
            
              FILE - President Joe Biden greets people after speaking during a Democratic National Committee event at the National Education Association Headquarters, Sept. 23, 2022, in Washington. Biden is picking up the pace of his high-dollar fundraisers for party candidates and committees in the last stretch ahead of the midterms. The receptions have been one of the most visible ways Biden has been deployed this political season at a time when his approval ratings remain underwater and many Democrats aren’t eager to campaign with him. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Whenever a donor’s unsilenced cellphone goes off at a fundraiser while President Joe Biden is talking, he has the same joke ready to go: It’s Donald Trump on the other line.

“If that’s Trump calling me again, tell him I’m busy,” Biden said at an event this past week for the Democratic Governors Association, repeating a variation of the quip he also relayed during receptions in Illinois and New York earlier this year. The crowd of a few dozen, as they always do, chuckled as the president continued with the rest of his remarks.

It’s one glimpse of Biden as fundraiser in chief — a man who schmoozes with aplomb while raking in millions at receptions that will be a fixture of his political schedule during the final stretch before Election Day, Nov. 8. At these events, celebrities are spotted and alcohol is consumed, while Biden gets the one-on-one interactions he had missed for much of his campaign and presidency due to COVID-19.

The fundraisers — held in lavish Manhattan apartments, drab conference centers and backyard tents glammed up with chandeliers — have been one of the most visible ways Biden has been deployed this election year at a time when his approval ratings remain underwater and many Democrats aren’t eager to stand by him on the campaign trail.

“Joe Biden is Joe Biden. He’s real, he’s down to earth, if he knows the people in the room … he’s even more relaxed,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., a close ally. “He gets all kinds of questions, he answers them honestly, he probably gives his staff heart attacks.”

So far this year, Biden has headlined 11 receptions to raise cash directly for the Democratic National Committee, and they have brought in more than $19.6 million, according to the committee. The events have ranged from a $300,000 haul at a yacht club in Portland, Oregon, to a cozy, 18-person affair (with four others on video screens) at Hotel Washington near the White House that took in more than $3 million. A pair of fundraisers at mansions in Southern California during the Summit of the Americas in June raked in $5 million in a matter of hours.

Separate from the DNC events, Biden spoke at a fundraiser in September benefiting Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that brought in more than $450,000 for the state Democratic Party.

The governors association event raised $1 million, and Biden was to have appeared on Tuesday at a fundraiser on behalf of Charlie Crist, the nominee for governor in Florida who has not been shy about wanting the president to campaign with him. That political trip was postponed due to Hurricane Ian.

The DNC also enlists Biden for solicitations sent to its grassroots donor list, with emails signed by the president consistently raising the most money for the committee, party officials say. As of this past week, the DNC has raised more than $107 million, the most at this point in any year and an amount that Democratic officials credited in large part to Biden’s direct involvement.

Biden seems to particularly relish the in-person interactions that a private fundraiser offers.

A famously chummy politician, Biden makes sure at any big-dollar event that his hosts are made to feel special and recognized. For instance, at a late August fundraiser in the Washington suburbs, Biden first spent some time giving a child near the front of the gathering a bit of attention and then the president gave his remarks for several dozen big-dollar DNC supporters.

“Honey, what’s your name?” Biden asked a little girl, sitting through what he joked had to be the most “boring” event. “Well, let me tell you something. Is that your daddy? He owes you big for having to sit here.”

At a June fundraiser in Beverly Hills, California, at the home of billionaire media mogul Haim Saban, the president mused to Saban’s wife, Cheryl, that both men had “married way above our station.” And standing in the 65th-floor apartment of Henry and Marsha Laufer overlooking New York’s Central Park, Biden gushed over the “magnificent” view, noting: “I don’t know if there’s a better view in New York than here.”

Indeed, the residence is a “piece of heaven” for the Laufers, who appeared fastidious about keeping their place spotless. Attendees checked their shoes – expensive Jimmy Choo mules and Saint Laurent pumps among them — at the door and listened to Biden while in socks or slippers provided by the couple. A small group of reporters in attendance were asked to place “booties” over their shoes to protect their hardwood floors and light-colored carpets. (None of the shoe rules applied to Biden, who kept his on and did not wear the disposable coverings.)

At Biden fundraisers, celebrities such as the actor Robert De Niro (in New York) or filmmaker Ken Burns (in Boston) make the occasional cameo, although neither stayed long enough to hear the president speak.

To donors, Biden’s comments, which can run from a few minutes to a half-hour, are a much more casual, off-the-cuff version of the campaign speech that he delivers in front of the cameras. Journalists have access to Biden fundraisers, although just with a notepad and pen, meaning cameras are barred.

Especially as of late, Biden takes care to underline his administration’s accomplishments — a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, a bipartisan infrastructure law, a climate and health care bill that came after months of internal Democratic wrangling. He then stresses to donors how the upcoming November midterms are a choice, not just between keeping his achievements and Republicans unraveling them, but on other issues such as abortion and guns.

While aides dispute that his message varies in more private settings, Biden frequently speaks extemporaneously and can be far less guarded than at his formal remarks at a lectern or on a stage.

It’s been at fundraisers where Biden has invoked variations of fascism – be it “semi-fascism” or “tint of fascism” — to refer to Trump-fueled forces within the Republican Party that Biden has said are a threat to the nation’s democratic foundations. While his spokeswoman declined to assess the implications of the recent election in Italy, where a political party with neo-fascist roots won the most votes, Biden at the DGA fundraiser pointed to the results as he warned about the fate of democracy both in the United States and abroad.

At the Laufers’ home, Biden – who tends to avoid talking about his faith when discussing policy — notably referenced the Catholic Church’s position while castigating Republicans who had pushed for broad bans on abortion.

“I happen to be a practicing Roman Catholic. My church doesn’t even make that argument,” he said, referring to abortion bans that leave “no exceptions.”

The quintessential Biden qualities — his candor and his warmth with the crowd — become more pronounced once the press is kicked out and audience members have a chance to ask Biden questions, say people who have attended such gatherings.

The questions Biden gets vary from event to event and they veer from political strategy to the news of the day. During a Manhattan fundraiser at the home of businessman and social justice activist Henry Munoz, Biden was pressed on his plans on immigration and how he would describe his closing message to voters, as well as the impact of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to relay details of a private event.

The bulk of Biden’s fundraising activity has been for the DNC, and Biden earlier this year greenlighted a $15 million transfer from it to the party’s House and Senate campaign committees, a sign of his personal investment in trying to ensure Democrats retain their majorities this fall. A White House official said Biden receives “quite a few” requests from Democratic candidates to appear at fundraisers, and aides work to accommodate as many as possible depending on his schedule and other factors.

Whitmer took priority because she was a co-chair of both Biden’s presidential campaign and his inauguration.

___

Follow AP for full coverage of the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Then Economic revitalization minister, Yasutoshi Nishimura speaks during a press conference ...
Associated Press

Japan, Belgium to cooperate in chip production, development

TOKYO (AP) — A newly founded Japanese semiconductor company aiming to revive Japan’s chip industry will collaborate with a Belgian research organization in research and development of next-generation chips for production in Japan. Economy and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters Tuesday that the new company, Rapidus, which was launched last month by eight corporate […]
1 day ago
Thai Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officials examine a section of train track damaged by a bomb...
Associated Press

3 railway workers killed, 4 wounded in Thai train bombing

BANGKOK (AP) — Three Thai railway workers were killed and four others wounded Tuesday when a bomb exploded as they were clearing the wreckage of an earlier attack over the weekend in the country’s south, police said. The workers were repairing tracks near Khlong Ngae station, not far from the Malaysian border, when the bomb […]
1 day ago
A protester waves a Mongolian national flag as protesters gather on the steps of the State Palace i...
Associated Press

Mongolians protest alleged theft of coal sold to China

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (AP) — Protesters angered by allegations of corruption linked to Mongolia’s coal trade with China tried to force their way into the State Palace in the capital, demanding dismissals of officials involved in the scandal. The U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar issued an alert Monday saying that several hundred protesters had gathered in the […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Turkey again threatens Greece for arming Aegean islands

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s foreign minister on Tuesday again threatened to “take action” against Greece if it continues to arm its Aegean islands which Ankara says should remain demilitarized in line with international treaties. Mevlut Cavusoglu’s comments follow reports of military exercises by Greece on the Aegean islands of Rhodes and Lesbos. Turkish officials […]
1 day ago
The daughter of Thailand's former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Paetongtarn Shinawatra applaud...
Associated Press

Daughter of ex-Thai PM Thaksin outlines opposition’s vision

BANGKOK (AP) — The daughter of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra promised a new era of social equality on Tuesday, saying if her party is elected to power in next year’s election it will bring an end to poverty in the Southeast Asian nation. Paetongtarn Shinawatra told supporters that if Thailand’s largest opposition party, […]
1 day ago
FILE --A man stands at the entrance of a hospital in Frankfurt, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Mi...
Associated Press

Panel proposes major overhaul of German hospital financing

BERLIN (AP) — An expert panel unveiled a proposal Tuesday for a major overhaul of Germany’s system for funding hospitals that it says would promote quality over quantity, ending what some described as a “hamster wheel” system where clinics tried to perform as many procedures as possible. The government-appointed panel of independent experts suggested putting […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Cha-ching! Biden embraces his election-year fundraising role