President Biden has consistently held several closed-door meetings with his top donors to alleviate their concerns heading into the 2024 election, including worries about his age and energy, according to a report.
Biden’s attempts to suppress their anxieties have occurred since the launch of his re-election campaign last spring. The meetings have taken place at the White House and included at least six sessions, each consisting of between four and eight people, and have covered an array of issues, such as how to handle former President Trump if he wins the Republican nomination and abortion rights.
Individuals familiar with the matter told the Washington Post, which first reported on the behind-the-scenes gatherings, that Biden’s age and energy were also among their concerns.
“It has dispelled anybody who has any doubts about his determination and his energy and his passion,” a person familiar with the meetings told the Post.
“It just gives him some seasoning. That is good. It gives him energy, which is very good,” they said. “And these people who are wondering if he has lost a step, they leave and are like, ‘That was great.'”
In addition to his top contributors, other individuals that Biden has known for some time have been in attendance, according to the report. The meetings have occurred in areas of the White House not considered “official workspaces,” where political activity can be discussed, such as the Map Room and a private dining room.
However, other reports from Wednesday indicate Biden previously showed the donors the Oval Office. The White House Counsel’s office allegedly warned him last year to stop to prevent any potential legal issues, Axios reported.
While the exact people who have attended the discussions are unknown, former Disney CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, a left-wing megadonor who co-chairs Biden’s campaign, has facilitated the meetings. Katzenberg told Reuters last year that he believed attacks on Biden’s age would backfire on those who made it an issue, and added his age is his “superpower.”
The worries of his top supporters align with those acknowledged by other prominent Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, who has said Biden’s age is an issue and people have a right to consider it.
Clinton made the comments last May during a Financial Times panel after the moderator referenced an incident when Biden almost tumbled down a flight of stairs.
“There was that heart-stopping moment when he almost fell over coming down the stairs a day or two ago,” the outlet’s editor said. “He didn’t use a railing, and Jill wasn’t there with him.”
“Every time that happens, your heart is in your mouth because these things could be consequential. Is that a concern?” he asked.
“It’s a concern for anyone,” Clinton responded. “We’ve had presidents who had fallen before who were a lot younger, and people didn’t go into heart palpitations.”
“But his age is an issue, and people have every right to consider it,” Clinton added. “But, you know, he has this great saying – and I think he’s right – don’t judge him for running against the Almighty but against the alternative. I am of the camp that I think he’s determined to run; he has a good record that, three years ago, people would not have predicted would have gotten done.”
David Axelrod, a former adviser to former President Obama, also brought up worry over Biden’s age among voters in November.
“I have no concerns about polls a year out. I mean, you have to look at them and analyze them and adjust,” Axelrod said. “But I was in a situation as a strategist for Barack Obama in 2011 where we were facing some difficult polls.”
“The one number in the polling that was concerning, and in the CNN poll that followed after The New York Times poll, had to do with age, and that is one thing you can’t reverse no matter how effective Joe Biden is behind the scenes,” he added. “In front of the camera, what he’s projecting is causing people concerns, and that is worrisome,”
The White House and Biden’s campaign did not immediately provide a comment.