WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's campaign is trying to organize a first-of-its-kind fundraiser that officials hope will be profitable and headline-grabbing, but will also energize Democratic voters who have so far been unenthusiastic about the party's 2024 ticket. For four people who know how to plan.
The idea is for the three Democratic leaders — Biden, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — to appear together at a fundraiser this spring, four people familiar with the discussions said.
Discussions are underway to consolidate the presidents' schedule, but no date has been set. The fundraising will take place in March or April, two sources familiar with the discussions said.
The plan underscores the belief among Biden allies that the party needs an all-hands approach to help him win a second term. It's one of a growing list of ways Democratic leaders and the Biden campaign are preparing for a general election.
The Biden campaign did not respond to requests for comment. Spokesmen for Clinton and Obama declined to comment.
The Biden campaign shifted to general election posturing in recent days — earlier than the president's aides expected. Their expectation has long been that former President Donald Trump will be Biden's opponent this fall after the Republican primary process. But that moment came this week, after Trump's victory in New Hampshire, followed by his victory in Iowa, according to Biden aides.
As a result, the campaign is ramping up its recruiting efforts, particularly in battleground states, and focusing on voters it hopes will decide the November election, officials said. Biden, for example, has tailored recent events to black voters, including Saturday in South Carolina. Vice President Kamala Harris kicked off small events with Latino voters in Nevada on Saturday.
According to Biden officials, the president's travel schedule — which has already picked up pace — will accelerate even further, so that he is out of the country at least two days a week.
“It's going to be very aggressive,” a White House official said.
The Biden campaign is poised to launch a multimillion-dollar ad campaign aimed at drawing a contrast with Trump, according to two people familiar with the plans. It will debut around Biden's State of the Union address, which is scheduled for early March, a source said.
An earlier general election fight also requires additional campaign cash.
The main goal of the fundraiser, where Biden, Clinton and Obama will share a stage, is to raise a significant amount of money, two people familiar with the discussions said. The event is expected to bring in donations big and small.
But the Biden campaign hopes the president will help the trio rally the party base.
“There's a real focus and urgency to make sure we defeat Trump,” the Biden adviser said. “Everybody gets involved. It's the latest proof that these kinds of events are just beginning.”
If the campaign considers this fundraiser a success, a second one could be organized later this year, said one of the people familiar with the discussions.
However, the Democrats' show of one-party power could be viewed differently by some voters who helped Biden win in 2020, such as moderate Republicans. Clinton and Obama have been lightning rods for the GOP, and Clinton has faced criticism from some Democrats in recent years for her handling of sex-abuse allegations leveled against her in the 1990s.
Still, both Clinton and Obama remain popular among Democrats. They are more popular Democratic leaders than Biden, although former presidents generally receive more approval from Americans than the current one.
A possible warning sign for Biden is his approval rating in his third year as president as he campaigns for re-election. Low than Obama and Clinton had at this point in their presidencies. Those numbers highlight the challenge Biden will face with voters this November.
At the same time, the president's aides argue that key economic indicators have shown signs of recent promising improvement, which they hope will benefit the president in the coming months and help shift his approval rating. To try to capture that momentum, the White House has expanded how Biden delivers his economic message by engaging more one-on-one with Americans about specific issues, including student loan debt and running a small business.
“We've mixed events so the president is talking to people individually,” a White House official said.