Major Democratic donors ponder how to persuade Biden to stand down

Major Democratic donors ponder how to persuade Biden to stand down

The New York Times reports:

Cash is a sudden priority for the Biden campaign.

After opening a $100 million advantage over Mr. Trump a couple of months ago, the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee entered June with $212 million in the bank, compared with $235 million for the Trump operation and the Republican National Committee.

The Biden campaign had hoped to close the gap through a major fund-raising push in the 72 hours after the debate. The scramble coincided with the typically lucrative end of the second-quarter filing period, when campaigns rush to raise cash and project momentum.

Mr. Biden’s team planned a series of fund-raisers on Friday and over the weekend featuring the president and the first lady, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris and celebrities in wealthy enclaves including Manhattan, the Hamptons and Park City, Utah.

If nothing else, the shaky debate performance cast a shadow over those events and led to concerns about diminished hauls.

The Biden campaign pushed back on any financial concerns, announcing that from Thursday into Friday morning it had raised $14 million in online donations, which are typically smaller than those from major donors. The hour after the debate — from 11 p.m. to midnight — was the single best hour of Mr. Biden’s re-election campaign, the campaign said. Combining the online flurry with hauls from in-person events, the campaign said it had raised a total of $27 million on debate day through Friday night.

The grumbling and strategizing by major donors played out in a rolling series of conference calls, text debates and Signal chats that started soon after Mr. Biden opened his mouth onstage in Atlanta on Thursday evening, and continued until late Friday. Some described the communications in tones that resembled a virtual group-therapy session.

“This is an immediate response to a disappointment,” said Craig Kaplan, a lawyer and major Democratic donor in New York.

During a weekly Friday morning Zoom call with major New York donors, Mr. Kaplan urged participants to prioritize giving to congressional and state races.

“The importance of the down ballot is heightened,” he said in an interview, by the perception of weakness at the top of the ticket. He added that he did not intend to abandon Mr. Biden.

Stephen Cozen, a Democratic donor who considers the president a friend, said he had tried to talk down donors who were urging a Biden intervention.

“He deserves the opportunity to reflect and say: ‘I still think I can do this. I still think I am the best choice,’” or to conclude that he’s not the best option, Mr. Cozen said, recounting his counsel. “That’s his decision. And I will stick with him until he makes it.”

In the upper crust of Democratic society, there was a gap between public and private communications.

Publicly, few were willing to brook any criticism of the president.

But privately, major donors were pondering matters that seemed like fan fiction just days ago, wondering to one another about which party elder — Barack Obama? Nancy Pelosi? Chuck Schumer? — might have the political juice to persuade Mr. Biden to stand down.

And they debated which Democrat might be best to replace Mr. Biden, with Govs. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Gavin Newsom of California among the more popular prospects. [Continue reading…]

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