Biden campaign officials seek to ease donor nerves on call


Biden campaign officials on a Monday night teleconference sought to ease the nerves of hundreds of Democratic donors, many of whom were wracked with doubt after the president’s poor debate performance against former President Trump.

But the call did little to assuage worries, according to several participants.

“No one feels good about this,” said one prominent donor on the call. “People have thrown their hearts and souls into this campaign and it could very well go south.”

“There are still a lot of unanswered questions,” the donor said.  

The campaign officials insisted President Biden has not lost support despite the bad debate.

“Voters saw the debate, they took it in, and they didn’t change their minds,” Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign chair, told donors on the hourlong call that took place on Zoom, according to two attendees. 

O’Malley Dillon, who worked on former President Obama’s presidential campaigns, compared Biden’s bad showing to Obama’s poor performance against Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in their first 2012 debate.

Still, she acknowledged that the campaign has “more work to do” in order to calm doubts related to Biden’s age. Biden will be 82 in November and would be 86 at the end of a second term. 

One donor who was on the call said the campaign would need to do more to assuage some concerns.

“People are still raw from this and shocked, and we didn’t really have our questions answered,” the source said.

The campaign has had other calls with donors in recent days in an effort to calm the tension that erupted after the debate.

But this was the first call donors were invited to ask questions. They could do so by typing them out in Zoom chat, not by asking the questions verbally.

Chris Korge, who serves as the finance chair of the Democratic National Committee, tried to ease what some have called Democratic bed-wetting. “Everyone just needs to breathe through their nose for a minute,” he told donors on the call, according to two sources.  

Campaign officials blamed the media for “blowing this out of proportion,” but also sought to calm those on the call by pointing to fundraising figures.

At one point on the call, Biden’s finance chair Rufus Gifford said the June fundraising numbers would be “strong.” 

One of the donors on the call who spoke with The Hill said while it was helpful to hear from campaign officials, they wanted to see evidence in poll numbers to be sure that Trump would not open up a big lead. 

“I think we’re all in wait-and-see mode,” a second donor told The Hill. “This was very real, and they can’t sugarcoat it. The proof will be in the pudding.”

A third donor who was on the call said the campaign has “a lot of work to do.”

“And he needs to get out there, do more interviews, hold some town halls, address the elephant in the room, and keep going. But he needs to be out there and prove it himself,” the donor said of Biden.

Biden did go on camera Monday night to issue a statement about the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on Monday that presidents generally have immunity from criminal prosecution for acts deemed official. The decision was another victory for Trump, and likely means the case against him for alleged crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol will not go to trial before the election.

Biden did not take questions at the White House event.

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