Executive donors from significant tech and banking firms have made their intent to help Biden overcome his abysmal approval rating and secure a second term in office clear. Founders from powerhouse corporations like DreamWorks, LinkedIn, and CNBC have already pledged their support to the Biden campaign and announced plans to host numerous fundraising events among their ranks. In the 2020 election, the Biden campaign raised over $1 Billion to Trump’s $740 Million.
By Brian Schwartz; April 26, 2023
Big donors in the business world started rallying around President Joe Biden soon after he announced Tuesday that he’s running for reelection next year.
Executives spanning from tech to media to finance made it clear publicly and behind the scenes that they’re ready to help Biden overcome his soft approval ratings and fend off a heated Republican challenge – potentially in a rematch with former President Donald Trump.
Several big Republican donors, meanwhile, have been scrambling to find an alternative to Trump, while some pinned their hopes on that potential candidate being Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has yet to announce whether he’s running. Some of those same donors have quietly started to look at other options beyond DeSantis as he continues his battle with Disney. Former Vice President Mike Pence could enter the GOP primary field, too.
Regardless of the Republican nominee, Biden will likely have a formidable war chest for the 2024 campaign.
Reid Hoffman, the billionaire LinkedIn co-founder, has offered to Biden’s allies to host fundraising events for the president once he announced he would run for reelection, according to one of the businessman’s close advisors.
Hoffman has been allied with Biden for years. He co-hosted a virtual fundraiser in 2021 for the Democratic National Committee, which featured the president. The advisor noted that Hoffman was invited to attend a Biden donor meeting set to take place in Washington this week, although he cannot go due to personal reasons. Hoffman visted the White House a few weeks ago, this person noted.
“They know they can rely on us,” this advisor said.
Some of the people cited in this story declined to be named in order to speak freely about private deliberations. A Biden campaign spokesperson didn’t return a request for comment before publication.
Haim Saban, the media mogul behind properties including the Power Rangers, told CNBC in an email he “will do all I can to have President Biden reelected for a well deserved second term.” He said he will be hosting events for Biden. Saban raised millions for Biden during the 2020 campaign, and he plans to “improve on that” in 2024.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, a co-founder of DreamWorks and a veteran Democratic donor, is one of the co-chairs of Biden’s campaign for president. Katzenberg was among Biden’s 2020 fundraisers who attended a state dinner at the White House last year.
Katzenberg told CNBC in an exclusive interview Tuesday night that he believes the Biden campaign will raise more this time around than in 2020. Then, Biden raised a bit more than $1 billion, while Trump brought in over $740 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
Katzenberg has been in touch with Biden and his team of longtime advisors over the past year about the president’s 2024 run.
“I’ve emphasized what he has accomplished and his leadership, and how essential it is in this moment in time for him to, one more time, saddle up and go do this,” Katzenberg said. “I have been as active and ambitious as possible in encouraging and supporting Biden to run again. I’ve been at it pretty consistently now for the last year.”
He added that his expects his role as co-chair of the campaign to develop. He also emphasized how small dollar donors are going to play a key role for Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign, as they did in 2020.
Biden’s campaign raised over $400 million from donors that gave under $200 during his last run for president, according to OpenSecrets. Katzenberg said that donors large and small have already reached out to him about how they can help.
Katzenberg said he was “inundated” with messages of support from donors for the president Tuesday after Biden’s announcement.
“It will take me days to get out from underneath the outpouring of support that has occurred in 12 hours after the launch,” he said.
Charles Myers, a former vice chairman at Evercore and the founder of Signum Global Advisors, told CNBC that he plans to give and raise millions of dollars toward Biden’s 2024 candidacy.
“Stakes are higher than ever. Trump 2.0 would be devastating for the country and arguably the world,” he said, noting that he plans to raise and contribute more than he ever has before.
Veteran hedge fund executive Donald Sussman told CNBC after publication of this story that he, too, is getting ready to back Biden. “No one since FDR has accomplished as much for Americans. I am thrilled his unique leadership will continue,” Sussman, a longtime Democratic financier, told CNBC in a statement.
Sussman had cut back his campaign support during the 2022 election cycle. Sussman’s donations throughout that cycle didn’t even get him into OpenSecrets’ top 100 donor list. In 2020, Sussman contributed over $20 million, with all of it going toward Democrats, according to OpenSecrets. He was the 12th-ranked donor that cycle.
A different Biden fundraiser said there are already two New York City fundraising events in the works. The events are being organized, at least in part, by businessman Dennis Mehiel, who backed Biden in 2020, according to this person. Chicago businessman John Atkinson is also planning fundraising events in support of the president, this person said.
Trump is the favorite in the GOP primary. An NBC News poll shows 46% of the Republican primary voters that took part in the survey support Trump over other contenders and potential candidates, including DeSantis. The majority of those surveyed said they would prefer that neither Biden nor Trump run for president.
Fifty-four percent of the people polled said they disapprove of the job Biden’s doing. Other public surveys show Biden would be favored against Trump, albeit in a tight race.
Trump’s dominance in the GOP field has pushed other big Democratic donors to start gearing up to back Biden. Venture capitalist Ron Conway has told friends he will help the president’s campaign, according to a person close to him.
Conway did not return repeated requests for comment.
Alexander Soros, the son of billionaire George Soros, said in a tweet he’s “ridin with Biden.” His spokesman did not have further details to provide on how either the elder Soros or his son plan to help the president.
The younger Soros, who has publicly criticized Trump, has visited the White House at least 14 times since Biden became president, according to the New York Post. George Soros donated over $178 million during the 2022 midterm elections toward Democrats running up and down the ballot, according to OpenSecrets.
Tom Steyer, a billionaire who has railed against Trump for years and supported Biden after running for president himself in 2020, tweeted his support for the president’s stance on climate change.
“We need a leader who understands the urgency of this moment and will work with our allies to strengthen our global response – that’s @JoeBiden,” Steyer said.
Steyer’s team did not respond to requests for comment.
Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images