Joe Biden Scoffs at Fundraising Trouble as Campaign Reverses Course on Super PACs

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, in Scranton, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Joe Biden scoffed at his recent fundraising troubles in a soon-to-be-aired interview with 60 Minutes, claiming his campaign was on course to do “extremely well” — an opinion not shared by his own aides.

The former vice president, who this week reversed his position on accepting help from super PACs, made the remarks when asked by CBS News’s Norah O’Donnell if he still considered himself the Democrat frontrunner. O’Donnell, particularly, noted that Biden had not only lost his polling advantage but had also fallen behind competitors like Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in fundraising.

“I just flat beat them,” Biden responded with a laugh before adding that his campaign was “on a course to do extremely well.” He said, “I’m not worried about being able to fund this campaign. I really am not, truly.”

Despite the former vice president’s bravado, his campaign has expressed increasing concern over its fundraising capabilities in the past few weeks.

“I hate to say it, but our opponents are way ahead of us when it comes to money in the bank,” Elana Firsht, a campaign aide, admitted in a recent fundraising email. “If we don’t pick up the pace here, we might have to make budget cuts that could seriously hurt our momentum in this primary.”

Although Biden started the race with a strong funding advantage, thanks to support from high-dollar donors, he ended the most recent fundraising period well behind his competitors. In between July and the end of September, Biden only raised $15.2 million. The sum was dwarfed by that raised by Sanders ($25.3 million), Warren ($24.6 million), and Mayor Pete Buttigieg ($19.1 million).

Compounding the problem is that the former vice president’s campaign has spent on luxury travel, depleting his total cash on hand to just $9 million at the end of the third quarter. His rivals, on the other hand, still have campaign coffers brimming with cash, especially Sanders who finished the reporting period with more than $33 million on hand.

Biden fundraising troubles stem from inability to make in-roads with small-dollar donors. Unlike Warren or Sanders, more than 2,800 donors have already maxed out to Biden’s campaign since his announcement, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In fact, top-dollar donors make up a far higher percentage of Biden’s campaign’s coffers than those of his competitors.

In comparison, only 38 percent of the campaign’s funds to date have come from individuals donating less than $200. Such a ratio poses an issue for the former vice president, especially now that his top contributors are prohibited by law from donating again until after he has secured the nomination.

Biden’s cash crunch was seen as the primary motivator for his campaign’s decision to jettison its stance of discouraging super PACs, which are allowed to raise and spend unlimited funds, on Thursday. The move came even after Biden had made a show this year of pledging to pass stronger restrictions on super PACs and dark money groups if elected president.

“Our Constitution doesn’t begin with the phrase, ‘We the Democrats’ or ‘We the Republicans,'” Biden said at a campaign event in May. “And it certainly doesn’t begin with the phrase, “We the Donors.”


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