Barack Obama made his first campaign appearance alongside Joe Biden since supporting him for president in April, helping raise more than $ 11 million and warning Democrats not to be “complacent or smug” about the presidential race.
The virtual fundraiser raised $ 7.6 million from 175,000 base contributors according to the Biden campaign. The former president and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate also organized a private online portion for high-dollar donors, which was not open to reporters, and raised more than $ 3.4 million.
It was the most money raised by a single event held by the former vice president so far during his presidential campaign, and it came immediately after the Democratic party and Biden campaign that overtook Donald Trump in May for the first time.
At the event, however, Obama urged viewers to learn the 2016 lessons and not take the elections for granted. Referring to what he called a “grand awakening” among younger Americans pushing for reform, Obama said that “just because this energy is out there does not mean that it ensures our victory and does not mean that it is channeled in a way that results in real change. “
“There is a violent reaction, which is fierce, against change,” Obama added.
So far, the Trump campaign has made progress in fundraising overall, with $ 265 million in cash at the end of May. Trump’s fundraiser in Dallas earlier this month raised more than $ 10 million for the campaign, the Republican National Committee and the Victoria Trump Fund. Biden and the Democrats had a combined total of $ 122 million, Reuters reported, although the former vice president’s fundraising efforts appear to have picked up in recent weeks.
The fundraiser marked Obama’s official return to the presidential campaign and underscored his unmatched popularity within the Democratic Party.
Tuesday’s event was a kick-off of what the Obama team says will likely be a busy agenda before fall, as it seeks to help elect not just Biden but Democrats running for the House and Senate. . And his comments suggest that Democrats are taking their base too comfortable this fall very seriously, with a series of state and national polls showing Biden with significant, often double-digit, clues about Trump. .
Democrats hope Obama’s appeal, especially among black and younger voters, can help boost energy for Biden.
“There are two groups of voters that Biden needs to move,” said Dan Pfeiffer, former director of communications for the White House. “You have the 4 million Obama 2012 voters who stayed at 16, Obama obviously has a cache with them. And you have to persuade a number of voters who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and either Trump or a third-party candidate in 2016, and Obama obviously also performs very, very high with them. ”
In fact, during Tuesday night’s fundraiser, Obama made a frequent speech directly to young voters, telling them that he was “hopeful” about the new energy he has seen, but warning them not to be discouraged by a political process that He said “it will always be slower”. “And” less satisfactory “than participating in a social movement through public demonstrations.
Obama backed Biden with a video message in April, but kept a low profile in the primaries and largely avoided meddling in national politics. In recent weeks, however, he has resurfaced publicly to speak about the police and civil unrest that followed George Floyd’s police murder in Minneapolis.
Some Democrats say that, after Floyd’s murder, Obama’s voice is needed as Biden’s advocate and party leader.
“Biden does not have the strongest track record in criminal justice reform, so having Obama there is helpful in reinforcing that problem,” said Ben Tulchin, who voted for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.
“Given what is happening with criminal justice reform and Black Lives Matter, having the first African-American president to publicly endorse Biden is extremely helpful.”