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Joe Biden campaign chairman rallies Wall Street donors for fundraising push

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Trump administration’s recent actions in Iraq at Current, Chelsea Piers in New York City.

Ron Adar | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

Joe Biden’s campaign chairman privately met with some of Wall Street’s top donors last week in an attempt to rally them around the former vice president’s push for the Democratic nomination.

Steve Ricchetti, the campaign chairman and one of Biden’s closest advisors, gathered with about 90 financiers Wednesday at investment banking firm Evercore in New York, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. His pitch appeared to sway several of the big-money donors, as well, these people said.

Attendees included Evercore founder Roger Altman, longtime investor Blair Effron, Blackstone Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Gray, Citigroup executive Ray McGuire, Centerbridge Partners co-founder Mark Gallogly, and former U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley, said the people, who declined to be named since the meeting was deemed private.

Ricchetti told the donors that he believes now is the time for them and their donor networks to get behind Biden as the first contests of the 2020 primary season are set to kick off in three weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.

Polling averages show that Biden has maintained his spot as the national Democratic front-runner with six months to go until the Democratic convention. Yet he is in extremely tight races with Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary early in February.

Biden is looking to continue to ramp up his fundraising since his fourth-quarter haul of $22.7 million.

The meeting did not just include staunch supporters of Biden, such as Effron, who, along with businessman Marc Lasry, has decided to back Biden after first backing Sen. Kamala Harris. The group was described by one attendee as donors who were either “Biden-warm or Biden-not-so-warm.” McGuire, for instance, was another Harris backer and a member of her national finance committee. Gallogly, as CNBC first reported, had supported former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke but has since decided to support Biden. Harris and O’Rourke dropped out of the race last year.

After the meeting, many of the donors appeared ready to join Biden’s cause, the people said.

Gray, for instance, has yet to publicly dedicate his resources toward one candidate, having written checks to a variety of contenders, including Biden. But he told attendees at the meeting that they should rally behind Biden.

Now the former vice president’s campaign is expecting to hold a slew of fundraising events that could bring in millions of dollars at this critical time, the people added.

The Biden campaign declined to comment. The donors mentioned in this story did not return a request for comment

Since he entered the race, Biden has been searching for a way to overtake his primary opponents in the fundraising game.

Progressive candidates Warren and Sanders, who leads the Democratic field in fundraising, have built their campaigns off of largely small-dollar donors. Buttigieg, on the other hand, has been working to be a moderate alternative for donors who are looking for a fresh face to be the nominee. The meeting last week, however, shows that Biden, who is the most established moderate in the race, is looking to gobble up as many business leaders as possible for a potential showdown with President Donald Trump.

Biden, Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg combined to raise more than $100 million in the fourth quarter.

Trump and the Republican National Committee have nearly $200 million on hand.

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