After a debate performance widely seen as a poor first step, Joe Biden suffered another setback this week after a report that a top donor has broken away after the former vice president’s comments on segregationists.
Biden entered the 2020 Democratic primary as the front-runner in polls, but has seen his numbers slowly dip and this week was reportedly reeling after his performance in the first debate. Biden was put on the defensive during the debate for his past support of segregationists, and CNBC is now reporting that a top donor has decided to break from Biden after the controversy.
Tom McInerney, a San Francisco-based lawyer, reportedly told Biden’s team that he would no longer be backing Biden. McInerney mentioned Biden’s debate performance, though the decision to stop backing Biden reportedly took place a full week before Thursday’s debate.
“I had actually let the campaign known I’d pulled back my support of Biden for now,” McInerney told CNBC. “I don’t think he did well last night,” he added, referencing Biden’s performance in the first debate.
As the report noted, McInerney is the first major donor to publicly break away after Biden’s controversial comments backing up members of the U.S. Senate who backed segregation. Biden had worked with this contingent to pass legislation. McInerney has been a major backer of other Democrats, helping raise $200,000 for Barack Obama during his first campaign.
Biden’s statements in support of segregationists came under attack during the debate, with California Senator Kamala Harris leading the way.
“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day, and that little girl was me,” Harris said, via CNBC. “I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly.”
Biden has also come under fire for publicly backing the Hyde Amendment, which restricts the federal government from funding abortions.
NEW: Joe Biden has lost the support of a top campaign fundraiser in the Bay Area after his comments on segregationists and the Hyde amendment. When asked if others were backing out, he told me “I would imagine I’m not alone.” https://t.co/putHljHoeI
— Brian Schwartz (@schwartzbCNBC) June 28, 2019
As Politico noted, many other 2020 Democratic hopefuls have piled on Biden in the wake of his shaky debate performance. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said in an interview on Friday that voters will now see whether Biden is up to the challenge of running for president, backing up Harris in her takedown of Biden.
It was not yet clear what effect the debate performance may have on Joe Biden, who had been atop nearly all early polls of Democratic voters.