Former President Barack Obama is making good on his promise to come off the sidelines in the 2020 presidential election, plotting to hit the road for his former Vice President, Joe Biden, now the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, for a series of fundraising events aiming to help Biden even the financial playing field with President Donald Trump.
Biden had an excellent May, raising an astounding $80 million — slightly more than Trump and the Republican National Committee raised in the same time period — but still lags far behind in overall cash on hand. The Trump war chest is well into the hundreds of millions and both Biden and the Democratic National Committee have ground to make up.
Obama will also be the first high profile Biden surrogate to “step offline,” according to Politico, hosting the campaign’s first in-person fundraiser Tuesday night after months of Zoom meetings and high-dollar online events.
“The small-dollar fundraiser Tuesday night will be held online and offers a fresh test of Obama’s ability to transfer his popularity to Biden, his former vice president who is now seeking the White House on his own,” the outlet reported Tuesday. “It’s a kickoff of what Obama’s team says will likely be a busy schedule heading into the fall, as he looks to help elect not just Biden but Democrats running for House and Senate.”
Biden himself has been well out of the public eye, hosting only a handful of events and avoiding cable news interviews for nearly three months, likely out of fear of making an on-air gaffe — something Biden seems increasingly liable to do.
Obama is hoping to motivate his own coalition of voters, which came out in 2008 and again in 2012, but largely sat home in 2016, turned off by then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“There are two groups of voters that Biden needs to move,” Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s former White House communications director told Politico. “You have the 4 million Obama 2012 voters that sat out in ’16, Obama obviously has cache with them. And you have to persuade some number of voters who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and either Trump or a third-party candidate in 2016, and Obama obviously is very, very high-performing with those as well.”
Biden is currently running well ahead in national polls and slightly ahead in battleground state polls, but because of his absence from the public eye, those polls now seem more of a referendum on President Donald Trump than a reflection of who will win in the head-to-head November matchup.
To take advantage of growing racial unrest — a phenomenon that seems to have benefitted Biden overall — Obama will focus his fundraising message on a “return to normalcy” in November, stressing that voters are facing a choice at a “turbulent” time in United States history.
“At the fundraiser, Obama plans to discuss Biden’s leadership, and specifically, why he believes his former vice president is the right fit for the current ‘turbulent moment’ in American history, according to an Obama aide,” CNN reported Tuesday. “Obama is expected to make the case for, among other things, Biden’s ’empathetic leadership’ in the middle of an ‘unprecedented health and economic crisis.'”
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