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Campaign donations frozen amid doubts over Biden’s candidacy

Democratic donors are deeply concerned about President Joe Biden’s viability as a candidate as the party continues to debate its path forward — and are holding back on major contributions, according to multiple sources familiar with the effort.

“‘Everything is frozen’ because nobody knows what’s going to happen. Everybody’s in wait-and-see mode,” a Democratic strategist told CNN noting that donors are hyper-focused on what Biden is doing, including interviews and his Thursday press conference.

Donors often operate behind the scenes and, according to sources, have grown increasingly anxious about Biden’s candidacy after his poor performance in last month’s debate. And on Wednesday (10), George Clooney, who was one of Biden’s biggest supporters and donors in Hollywood, took the extraordinary step of publicly calling for him to drop out of the presidential race.

Clooney’s op-ed, the strategist said, “is going to hurt.”

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s remarks on MSNBC Wednesday morning also raised new questions and resonated with donors. Pelosi said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “it’s up to the president to decide whether he’s going to run. We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running out.”

“Large donations have slowed down considerably since the debate,” a Democratic fundraiser told CNN adding that small-dollar donations are continuing to pour in, but noted that the campaign is too large to survive on small donations alone.

A CNN has reached out to the Biden campaign for comment.

Earlier this week, Biden tried to reassure donors in a phone call, saying he would stay in the race and arguing he was still the best candidate to defeat his Republican rival, Donald Trump.

“My only job is to beat Donald Trump,” Biden said, according to one of the callers, who said Biden thanked donors and renewed his commitment to keeping the fight alive.

But that didn’t calm everyone’s nerves.

“It’s been a tough period,” said a source familiar with the fundraising situation. “In the short term, money is a challenge, but the situation is fluid.”

“The money that’s coming in is drying up,” another source close to the fundraising efforts told CNN describing donors as very, very frustrated and very, very worried.

That has already been reflected in fundraising events held after the debate: An event held at the home of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy raised $3.7 million — less than half the amount raised at a pre-debate event at the home of former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe the week before the debate.

Meanwhile, organizers of at least one Chicago fundraiser scheduled during the Democratic National Convention have decided not to move forward with the mid-August event, a source with knowledge of the discussions told CNN.

Shortly after Biden’s debate performance, organizers paused discussions about planning the fundraiser until after the July 4 holiday to allow the dust to settle. This week, the organizing committee decided not to proceed with the event, citing disagreement over how to proceed given the continued erosion of support for Biden’s candidacy.

The event, planned as a luncheon for a few dozen wealthy Chicagoans, was intended to mobilize support among the party’s loyal and successful local residents as a show of support for the big event in their city.

While the luncheon itself was expected to raise less than $1 million for the campaign, the mood of the attendees — many of whom contributed millions to Biden’s 2020 campaign and associated entities — serves as a warning sign in some deep-blue circles of the donor class.

A Biden campaign spokesperson told CNN that the event was not associated with their official fundraising schedule.

Nearly two weeks after the debate, some Democratic donors continue to issue public warnings that the party could lose the White House in November if Biden remains the nominee, and say they are increasingly concerned about his stubborn resistance. The president has insisted he will stay in the race and has expressed frustration with “the elites” who are calling for him to withdraw from the race.

Damon Lindelof, a Hollywood screenwriter and producer who recently urged Democratic donors to withhold their contributions until Biden resigns, told CNN in an email Wednesday that he is “pretty firm” in that view.

“I maintain that Joe Biden is an excellent president, and I am saddened that the language within the party is attack/defend/retreat rather than thoughtful, considered debate about where we are and how to get to where we need to be,” Lindelof said.

“I think the characterization that the only people asking for this conversation are ‘elites’ ignores the polls and the tens of millions of Americans who have been saying for a while that they are deeply concerned about our candidate,” he added.

Maggie Kulyk, a Democratic donor who runs a wealth management firm, said her view that Biden needs to resign is shared by “people I talk to all the time — friends, clients, etc.”

“They all say the same thing, that he shouldn’t be the head of the ticket,” she said in a phone interview. “Politicians in Washington or anyone with any influence need to grow a backbone and tell the truth that’s out there,” she added, saying Biden is dealing with “clear cognitive issues.”

“This kind of waiting for him to make another big mistake as an excuse, to me, seems absurd,” Kulyk said. “The debate was the thing. We saw that.”

Kulyk serves on the board of the Women Donors Network, but said she was not speaking on behalf of the donor group.

News of the Chicago fundraiser’s cancellation came hours after Clooney called on the president to drop out of the race, just weeks after the actor was featured at a major fundraiser for the president’s re-election campaign.

Clooney wrote that the Biden he saw during a June 15 fundraiser, which also included former President Barack Obama, “was not the Joe Biden of 2010. It wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020.”

“He was the same man we all witnessed in the debate,” Clooney added, referring to Biden’s shaky and disastrous performance in the June 27 presidential debate in CNN .

Biden’s team is currently planning to hold fundraising events in Austin, Denver and two in California — one in Laguna Beach and one in Northern California — in July, according to a source familiar with the plans.

Donors in other parts of the country told CNN that their events are on hold until Biden’s path becomes clearer.

John Morgan, a Florida attorney and longtime Biden supporter, was working with the campaign to hold a fundraiser in the state, likely in early September, but he said this week that the event is “on hold.”

“I don’t even bother them,” he said of contacting campaign officials about the status of the event. “I’m not going to call them because they have bigger issues to deal with than an event in Florida in September. They have to overcome all the critics.”

For his part, Morgan said he remains committed to supporting Biden and is willing to hold a fundraiser “only if he is the nominee.”

“Some of the elite donor class are cutting ties. That’s a big mistake,” Morgan said.

A longtime Democratic fundraiser said it was too early to tell whether Biden was doing enough to assuage taxpayers’ concerns, but he was relieved there had not been an “avalanche” of elected officials in Washington calling for Biden to drop out of the race this week as they returned from the July 4 recess.

However, the person added: “I haven’t made any calls or requests (for donations) in the last week and a half… because you need to let some things settle down.”

For its part, the Biden campaign has highlighted a significant increase in recent online financial support and the substantial infrastructure it has already built in battleground states to argue that it will have the resources to compete effectively.

The campaign said it raised $38 million in the four days after the debate, including $30 million in contributions from grassroots supporters. In addition, Peter Lowy, a former retail executive, on Monday (8) gave the maximum contribution of $929,600 to Biden’s joint fundraising committee with the Democratic National Committee, according to the campaign.

In a statement, Lowy said there was “no doubt about the success of the country” under Biden.

“The economy is strong. Unemployment is near historic lows, more than 15 million jobs have been created, the S&P 500 is at an all-time high, and inflation is declining,” he said. “Based on all of these facts and based on my interactions with the President, when he announced his plan to run for re-election, I fully supported him. I supported him then, and I support him today.”

Source: CNN Brasil

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