US President Joe Biden thanked some of his top donors at the start of a re-election campaign that is expected to need to raise more than one billion dollars to secure his second term.
“It’s because of you, I’m standing here,” Mr Biden said in the ballroom of a Washington hotel. “And it’s because of you, we’re going to win this time around.”
The weekend summit is not a fundraiser and it was not clear how many of the attendees had yet written cheques for Mr Biden’s campaign.
Rather, it is billed as a strategy session for about 150 high-dollar donors and fundraisers who will organise their networks to help fund Mr Biden’s campaign over the next 18 months.
“We’re still in a battle for the soul of this country,” Mr Biden said, echoing his campaign message from 2020, when he defeated Donald Trump. A rematch is possible next year, with Mr Trump leading in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination.
In addition to a Friday evening dinner, top Biden advisers and his campaign co-chairs will brief attendees during Saturday on the campaign’s strategy ahead of the 2024 race to “fund winning campaigns from the top of the ticket on down”, the campaign said.
“Now that he’s thrown his hat back into the ring, the dam has burst and people are super excited and on board,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, a co-chair of Mr Biden’s campaign.
“We’re at the beginning of the beginning. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And we are in an enviable position in that we’re singularly focused on running and winning in November 2024 and all of our efforts and resources are really focused on that.”
The weekend summit marks the first official in-person political event for Mr Biden since declaring his candidacy on Tuesday.
The campaign is slowly beginning to take shape out of spare office space at the Democratic National Committee before it moves to Wilmington, Delaware, the president’s hometown, said a person familiar with the matter.
And campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez has not started yet because she is still transitioning out of her job as White House director of intergovernmental affairs.
On Thursday night Mr Biden held a virtual call with grassroots supporters from the White House residence, and his campaign has sent dozens of fundraising emails to supporters, whose smaller cheques, the campaign says, are just as important as big donors.
“One of the hallmarks of Joe Biden is that he’s always enjoyed grassroots support and it has always been an essential ingredient (of his campaigns),” said Mr Katzenberg. “To focus too much attention on the high end and the bundlers would be a mistake.”