WASHINGTON, United States, June 28 ------ Barack Obama helped raise $7.6 million for White House hopeful Joe Biden during a Tuesday virtual fundraiser where the former president said a "great awakening" among Americans could help defeat Donald Trump in November's election. The two-term Democrat proved a major draw in his first virtual even with Biden since endorsing his presidential bid, bringing in 175,000 online attendees whose donations marked a single-event record for Biden this cycle.
"I am here to say the help is on the way if we do the work, because there's nobody I trust more to be able to heal this country and get back on track than my dear friend Joe Biden," said Obama, appearing on a split screen with the Democratic presumptive nominee. "What makes me optimistic is the fact that there is a great awakening going on around the country, particularly among younger people" who are "fed up with the shambolic, disorganized, mean-spirited approach to governance that we've seen over the last couple of years," he added.
Biden has held no in-person campaign rallies since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. He has largely remained in his Delaware home, using social media, television interviews or advertisements to blast Trump for what he says is an inadequate, failed effort to contain the virus's spread or improve economic conditions for millions of suffering Americans. Trump meanwhile has disregarded his government's guidelines and held several in-person events, including a weekend rally in Tulsa, where most of the 6,000 attendees did not wear masks.
Biden's online event confirmed the continued popularity of the nation's first black president, and the campaign said it showed an eagerness among core Biden supporters to launch a more intense spirit of campaigning. "There are over 175,000 grassroots supporters that have contributed to tonight's event, which makes it the largest fundraiser certainly we have had on the campaign and really highlights the power of the grassroots movement behind VP Biden to take on Donald Trump," Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said.
Obama spoke of the urgency of not just bringing together a strong campaign, but advocating for broader systemic change during a period of heightened tensions over racial injustice and police brutality. "Whatever you have done so far isn't enough," Obama told listeners, urging them to use the momentum of recent coast-to-coast street protests as a catalyst for political change. "We have this unique chance to translate a growing awareness of injustice in society into actual legislation and institutional change," Obama said.