Biden Asks Donors to Stay Following Disastrous Debate

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden told deep-pocketed donors in New York’s Hamptons that he acknowledges worries about his debate performance against Donald Trump, and he vowed to stick with his reelection bid.

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“I understand the concern about the debate,” Biden said Saturday at the oceanfront Hamptons estate of hedge fund manager Barry Rosenstein and his wife, Lizanne, who hosted him at a fundraiser. “I get it. I didn’t have a great night.”

With about 150 people in attendance, Biden repeated that he wouldn’t be running “if I didn’t believe I could win” as he seeks to rebuild momentum after the debate debacle on Thursday, which has spread alarm among Democrats. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, hosted a reception for Biden later Saturday.

Democratic donors, lawmakers and strategists were rattled by Biden’s debate performance, with some urging the president to consider stepping aside. After Biden said Friday he has no plans to do so, the fundraisers are a chance to reassure supporters that he’s capable of serving another four years in the White House.

Biden’s debate performance also risks diminishing his fundraising ability as Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, gains ground. Biden’s campaign downplayed those concerns, saying it raised $27 million between the debate day and Friday evening.

On the guest list for the East Hampton event — with the cost of entry topping out at $250,000 — were Goldman Sachs Group Inc. alumni Eric Mindich and Nicole Davison Fox as well as actors Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Loews Corp. co-chairman Jon Tisch, Tiger 21 founder Michael Sonnenfeldt and film and television producer Darren Star. Also attending was Skybridge Capital managing partner and founder Anthony Scaramucci.

A bundler working on the event, who wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly, said the campaign wasn’t aware of any donors pulling out.

“The Biden I saw today was different from the debate,” said investor and venture capitalist Alan Patricof, 89, who attended the East Hampton event. “My only feeling is that we’re left with a choice” between Trump and Biden, who’s a “not perfect person but someone who will at least represent this country honorably,” he said.

With Biden exuding defiance, several people outside the Hamptons venue held up signs urging him to drop out, even while expressing sympathy.

Paul McIsaac, 84, a self-described political independent, urged Biden to step aside for “the higher priority of the country,” saying he should “take this moment to be a world historic figure, go against all his political instincts and do the really morally and tactically smart thing to do.”

At Murphy’s mansion in Middletown, New Jersey, the governor gave Biden a brief, encouraging introduction. “You’re on fire and we are all with you 1,000%,” Murphy said.

Attendees included Agnes Hsu-Tang, who leads the New-York Historical Society, and Andy Berndt, who heads Google’s Creative Lab. Also on the guest list was Carlyle Group’s James Attwood. The event raised $3.7 million, New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy said.

Biden, 81, told supporters at a post-debate rally in North Carolina on Friday he’s committed to winning the November election, while acknowledging his age.

Manhattan Stops

That evening, he and first lady Jill Biden received a warm welcome at an LGBTQ+ gala in Manhattan, where he was introduced by musician Elton John. Tickets ranged from $250 to $500,000 for seats closest to the stage.

Jill Biden, speaking at a Greenwich Village fundraiser on Friday hosted by author Adriana Trigiani, acknowledged the debate was on the minds of attendees — but relayed the private support she had offered her husband.

“After last night’s debate, he said, ‘You know, Jill, I don’t know what happened. I didn’t feel that great.’ And I said, ‘Look, Joe, we are not going to let 90 minutes define the four years that you’ve been president,’” the first lady said.

Trump outraised Biden in May for the second consecutive month, fueled by a surge in donations after his 34-count conviction in his New York trial for falsifying business records to cover up hush-money payments to an adult film actress.

(Corrects Hsu-Tang’s affiliation in 12th paragraph of story published June 29.)

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