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Biden supporters organizing ‘largest single fundraiser’ in Rhode Island

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Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at the Colonial Early Education Program at the Colwyck Training Center, Tuesday, July 21, 2020 in New Castle, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Joe Biden supporters are organizing what they’re billing as the “largest single fundraiser” for the presidential candidate’s campaign in Rhode Island, calling on supporters to co-host the event and commit at least $5,000 apiece.

The fundraiser co-chairs sent out an invitation to supporters and potential donors to co-host the virtual event, which would happen sometime shortly after the Democratic National Convention next month, when Biden is expected to receive the party’s formal nomination.

The money from the fundraiser would go toward helping Biden in his final push against Republican President Donald Trump, and organizers said the event could relay “an important message about our state’s commitment to send Trump permanently back to Mar-a-Lago.”  

“We know that you will agree that this is the most consequential elections of our lifetime,” wrote co-chairs Liz Beretta-Perik, Joseph Paolino Jr., Arthur Solomon and Don Sweitzer, in the invitation obtained by Target 12.

“We need the resources to mount an effective campaign down the stretch, fight voter suppression and get out the vote,” they added.

The fundraiser is for the “Biden Victory Fund,” a committee that raises money with the Democratic National Committee. Paolino, one of the organizers, helped put together a similar event four years ago with Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine in Newport.

The plan this year is to feature Biden’s running mate – who hasn’t been named yet – although there wouldn’t be an in-person event because of the pandemic.

“Now, we’ll have whoever he picks in our living rooms on our computers,” Paolino quipped.

The event is also expected to feature “one or two top officials from the Biden campaign,” according to the invitation.   

Those willing to co-host the event are expected to raise or give at least $5,000 each, according to the invitation, which could also secure them some face time with Gov. Gina Raimondo next week.

The governor is slated to participate in a “strategy call” with co-hosts on Zoom on Wednesday to “discuss the campaign and the fundraiser,” according to the invitation.

“There has never been more at stake in a presidential election,” Raimondo spokesperson Kate Ramstad said in a statement. “As our nation faces a pandemic, an unprecedented unemployment crisis, and a reckoning with racial justice, it is clear we need competent, compassionate leadership in the White House.”

Raimondo, a fellow Democrat, has been rumored as a potential running mate for Biden, although she expressed little interest in the job and Biden has indicated his current list includes four Black women. Raimondo endorsed business tycoon Michael Bloomberg over Biden earlier in the campaign, but she has since offered her support for the former vice president.  

“The governor is proud to join Rhode Island’s political and business leaders in support of Vice President Biden’s campaign,” Ramstad added.

Nearly 77% of Democratic primary voters – or 79,278 people – cast ballots for Biden during Rhode Island’s presidential preference primary election on June 2, when the former vice president had already all but locked down the nomination. Roughly 87% of Republican primary voters – or 19,176 people – supported the incumbent Trump.

When it comes to fundraising, the president’s campaign war chest vastly exceeded Biden’s in the beginning of the year. But the Democrat has started to more rapidly close the gap, especially in more recent months, as support for Trump has slumped during the pandemic. Biden is currently leading Trump in most polls, with a nearly 9 point advantage, according to an average tracked by RealClearPolitics.

Paolino said the fundraiser isn’t designed so much to have the vice president come drum up support in Rhode Island, a Democrat-leaning electorate that Paolino predicts will support Biden. Instead, he said, the goal is to give him an extra push in swing states, which could make or break the election.

“I want him to spend it in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida – the battleground states,” Paolino said.  

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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