Biden returns to Philadelphia for big-dollar fundraiser

Politics
Joe Biden

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a town hall meeting at the Indian Creek Nature Preserve, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Many of the same Democratic donors who helped Joe Biden raise money at the start of his White House run welcomed the former vice president back to Philadelphia on Monday for a big-dollar fundraiser featuring tickets that cost as much as $40,000.

Biden, a Pennsylvania native who represented nearby Delaware in the Senate for decades, has a deep well of support in Philadelphia, where his campaign is headquartered. The event comes ahead of next week’s third quarter reporting deadline, which will offer a crucial measure of which candidates have the resources to compete in the homestretch leading up to the Iowa caucuses in February.

Standing in front of a massive marble statue of Benjamin Franklin in a downtown museum, Biden told the crowd that he often felt like he had “more support in Philadelphia” than Delaware.

“Some of you were there all the way back in 1972,” Biden said, referring to his first campaign for Senate.

Pennsylvania, which President Donald Trump carried in 2016, is one of several pivotal battleground states that are likely to determine the outcome of the 2020 election. The fundraiser at the city’s Franklin Center was hosted by a who’s who of the city’s top donors, many of whom were part of former Gov. Ed Rendell’s network.

David L. Cohen, who hosted Biden’s kickoff fundraiser at his home in April, was a primary host of the event. He’s a senior vice president for Comcast, one of the city’s largest private employers, who runs the telecom giant’s lobbying operation in Washington. Other hosts include Ken Jarin, who leads the firm Ballard and Spahr’s lobbying shop; Steve Cozen, who founded the firm Cozen O’Connor; and longtime Democratic donor and attorney Tom Leonard.

Cohen, who helped Rendell run the city as mayor, helped raise millions for both President Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns. But he has also given generously to Republicans, as well. Over the past decade, he’s donated at least $400,000 to the campaign arms of both the House and Senate Republicans, Federal Election Commission records show.

The cost of entrance to Monday’s event was $500 for a “guest,” $1,000 for a “friend” and $2,800 for a “sponsor,” which included a photo, according to an invitation obtained by the Associated Press. Those who raised $20,000 for the campaign were billed a “co-host” and allowed to attend a private reception and given a photo opportunity. A separate VIP reception was held for donors who bundled $40,000, the event invitation stated.

Biden’s campaign did not say how much was raised at the event.

Two of Biden’s top rivals, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, have sworn off big-dollar fundraisers and rely instead on small online contributions from grassroots supporters. But despite early success raising money that way online, Biden’s small-dollar operation sputtered last quarter, records show. That’s forced him to rely more on big-dollar donors who are an object of scorn for many Democratic Party activists who believe corporate interests have too much sway in politics.

Biden spoke for roughly 30 minutes but did not directly address suggestions Trump has made without any evidence that Biden and his son Hunter should be investigated over work Hunter did for a gas company in Ukraine.

But he did vow to fight back against Trump’s attacks.

“I’m not going to take a punch and not punch back,” Biden said.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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