Prior to the official launch of his 2020 presidential campaign, former Vice President Joe Biden was regarded as the clear and uncontested frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s nomination to take on Donald Trump.
But though he’s still the top Dem in the polls, Biden’s lead has started to slip amid a series of gaffes and stumbles by the former VP on the campaign trail — the latest of which have cost him one big-time donor.
CNBC reported on Friday that Biden had lost the support of one of his campaign’s chief financial backers, a fundraiser and donation bundler who supported former President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012 with more than $200,000 in donations over the course of that cycle.
That fundraiser is San Francisco-based attorney Tom McInerney, who cited recent comments by the candidate about working alongside segregationists, as well as his waffling on the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funds from being used on abortion, as the most prominent reasons for the withdrawal of his support for Biden.
That news didn’t become public until after Biden appeared on the second half of the first Democratic debates on Thursday night, but the decision had actually been made and shared with the campaign several days prior to the debate, on June 20.
“I had actually let the campaign known I’d pulled back my support of Biden for now,” McInerney told CNBC.
But McInerney added after seeing Biden’s Thursday performance: “I don’t think he did well last night.”
McInerney’s opinion of Biden’s performance echoed the rather frank assessment of many experts across the political spectrum. The former senator and vice president too often spoke slowly and incoherently, actually cut himself off once or twice, and came under intense fire from California Sen. Kamala Harris on a number of fronts, including his segregationist comments.
But while Biden’s poor performance may not have been the deciding factor in McInerney’s decision to withdraw his financial support of the campaign, it may be a contributing factor for other financial supporters considering pulling the plug on Biden too.
That was the prediction by McInerney, who insinuated to CNBC that he was likely only the first significant financial defection from Biden’s camp.
“I would imagine I’m not alone,” he said. But the timing of the announcement probably couldn’t have been worse for Biden, who reportedly just launched a fundraising effort in the Bay Area — McInerney’s stomping grounds — that was expected to continue through the weekend.
It will be interesting to see what sort of fundraising haul, if any, is announced by the Biden campaign following the weekend’s events. Regardless, things are currently not looking so good for Biden, and it has become painfully obvious that he will not be waltzing through the primary season to a coronation as the nominee, but will have to earn it the hard way — now with less financial support than he had counted on.