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Obama and Biden Raise $7.6 Million In Massive Virtual Fundraiser

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Barack Obama and Joe Biden campaigning together again - it happened last night, not at a big rally in a key state like Michigan. Instead, it was a very 2020 setting, a massive virtual fundraiser. The former president used the call to urge Democrats not to let up, even as Biden holds a lead in many polls.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARACK OBAMA: Man, this is serious business. Whatever you've done so far is not enough.

MARTIN: The event raised a huge amount of money - $7.6 million for Biden, who - after struggling to raise cash for most of the primary - is suddenly matching President Trump in dollars raised. NPR's Scott Detrow is here with us this morning. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning.

MARTIN: So what more did President Obama have to say?

DETROW: He spoke for more than an hour. He talked up Biden, making a pitch that seemed to be tailored to younger voters who may not exactly be knocking over doors to go get out the vote for Joe Biden - saying, yes, he's been in politics a long time, but that gives him a lot of experience. Obama made the point to say that Biden played a key role in a lot of Obama administration efforts, including dealing with a major recession, something very relevant to current events. Obama also made a point to tie Biden's campaign to the protests that have taken place all over the country for racial justice.

The fundraiser was closed to broadcast media, but we did obtain audio from someone who was on it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OBAMA: We have this unique chance to translate a growing awareness of injustice in this society into actual legislation and institutional change that can make a difference in people's lives. And those moments don't come that often.

DETROW: Obama also repeatedly urged Democrats to keep working and stay focused, and that's something you also heard a lot from Biden's campaign manager. Biden may have a double-digit lead right now in a lot of national polls, including one that just came out this morning, but they all see this as definitely getting tighter as Election Day gets closer.

MARTIN: So we know President Trump has been - I'm sorry - President Obama has been very careful in how he criticizes President Trump, doesn't often critique him by name. What did he - was he - were his attacks more direct last night?

DETROW: Yeah, Obama often seems to be trying to avoid the Obama versus Trump headline that President Trump seems to be very into anytime it happens.

MARTIN: Right.

DETROW: So Obama, once again, did not mention Trump by name, but he was pretty pointed. He called the administration's approach to governing shambolic and mean-spirited. He criticized the administration for trying to ignore the coronavirus, and he talked a little bit about that decision earlier this month to clear out protesters forcefully - said that President Trump could go to a church for a photo op, saying things like that embolden authoritarians around the world because they see it and they don't think the U.S. is going to be pushing back on their actions as much.

MARTIN: So we mentioned, Scott, that Biden is now close to matching Donald Trump on fundraising, and he got a whole lot of money last night from this event. What changed for him?

DETROW: Well, there's suddenly a lot more energy among Biden's supporters, and a lot of that has to do with increased anti-Trump energy, not necessarily pro-Biden energy, but you're still seeing the result in both polls and fundraising. Biden had a really hard time raising money throughout 2019. Now, suddenly, his campaign and the DNC raising $60 million - $80 million in May. It's really notable - Biden and the DNC actually raised more money than Trump and the RNC last month. That doesn't happen much with incumbent presidents, and you're seeing them put it to use. Biden spent $15 million on TV advertising in key states now.

MARTIN: Thanks to Scott Detrow, who's been covering the presidential campaign. We appreciate it.

DETROW: Sure thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOSHUA REDMAN AND THE BAD PLUS' "AS THIS MOMENT SLIPS AWAY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.