Biden hits Chicago for virtual high-dollar fundraiser Monday

A Biden source told the Chicago Sun-Times that in a typical week, some 20 million people will see a Joe Biden digital or social media communication.

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Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Holds Virtual Town Hall To Hear Coronavirus Concerns

Joe Biden’s virtual campaign hits Chicago on Monday for a fundraiser. Biden’s home studio in Wilmington, Delaware, is where he does his virtual events

Photo by via Getty Images

Joe Biden’s virtual campaign hits Chicago on Monday with a fundraiser aimed at high-dollar area donors moderated by former Obama Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

So far, a Biden source told me, the COVID-19 pandemic has not hurt the campaign of Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee — it just changed it.

The Biden campaign was thrust into virtual campaigning on March 13, with a technically shaky webcast before the March 17 Illinois primary. It was thrown together as the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. was growing and it became clear it would be impossible to continue with in-person events.

Now Biden telecasts from a professional-level studio put together in his Wilmington, Delaware, home with much improved technology.

The source said in typical week, some 20 million people will see a piece of digital or social media communication.

It is a different campaign for sure, but basic elements remain the same, the source said.

Field staff has been repurposed to reach out to people, not necessarily with a hard political ask, but to check in on them. Digital organizers provide the kind of human contact the Biden campaign sees as very important right now. 

The Biden campaign recently entered into a joint agreement with the Democratic National Committee, letting it build out its November operation, with a focus on the battleground states.

The campaign is hiring more fundraisers and organizers, the political tasks being adapted for the new virtual campaign world.

Last week, a virtual fundraiser hosted by actors Kristin Chenoweth and Billy Porter, sports legend Billie Jean King, singer Melissa Etheridge and former Democratic rival Pete Buttigieg raised, according to Porter, $1.1 million.

The top tab for the Chicago virtual event is $2,800.

The co-hosts for the funder, to start at 6:30 p.m., are Bob Clark, chief of Clayco; Michael Sacks, an investor in the Chicago Sun-Times and his wife, Cari; attorney Bill Singer; Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts; Bob Wislow, the chairman of the commercial real estate services  firm CBRE; and Adam Hitchcock, who served in the Obama/Biden White House.

“We’re inviting you to an exciting event,” Clark, an early Biden backer, said in an online video to potential donors pitching the question-and-answer session with Biden and Pritzker.

While President Donald Trump may dominate cable news with his COVID-19 briefings — which may end, what with the crash and burn episode last week where Trump raised the prospects of injecting disinfectants — the Biden campaign has been doing almost daily events targeting vital Democratic groups.

On Monday afternoon, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., a former rival now mentioned as a potential Biden running mate, hosts a virtual town hall dealing with, according to the campaign, “the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.”

And 30 minutes before Joe Biden does the Chicago event, Jill Biden hosts a LGBTQ+ Social Hour “with LGBTQ+ leaders from across the country” with a “special guest performance” by singer and LGBTQ advocate Cyndi Lauper.

The campaign activities — building the general election infrastructure, hiring, communicating through digital channels and television interviews; putting together post primary swing state operations — are about what Biden would be doing anyway.

Only it’s virtual, not in-person.

The campaign is also saving some money because there is no travel.

On Saturday night, the Biden campaign held a virtual rally honoring the front-line COVID-19 workers, ending with a flourish of images of all his Democratic rivals.

An advantage that Biden has — and should not be discounted — is that he has solidified the field earlier than Barack Obama did in 2008 or Hillary Clinton in 2016. All Biden’s rivals are behind him. And it’s only April.

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