Washington (CNN) — President Joe Biden raised more than $42 million for his presidential campaign and the Democratic Party in January, a sizable haul that shows the party’s donor class is still firmly behind the president despite anxiety around his reelection run.

The campaign announced it ended the month with $130 million on hand, the largest figure amassed by a Democratic presidential candidate at this point in the campaign cycle. The Biden campaign and Democrats have so far outpaced former President Donald Trump and the Republican primary field in fundraising as well.

The January numbers are a bright spot for the president’s team amidst a period of intense Democratic handwringing over the campaign’s operations, low polling and a fresh spotlight on Biden’s age and memory in the wake of special counsel Robert Hur’s report. The president and Democrats have consistently posted high fundraising totals – nearly $278 million since April – from high dollar events and grassroots pushes, and January marked the campaign’s best fundraising month with small dollar donors, the campaign said.

The January fundraising disclosure comes as the president is set to embark on what is expected to be a lucrative three-day fundraising swing through California. The trip, which includes fundraisers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Los Altos Hills, is expected to raise as much as $10 million, a source familiar with the plans told CNN.

The West Coast push is playing out less than two weeks after Hur’s report put the president’s age and mental acuity front and center in the 2024 campaign. Hur portrayed the 81-year-old president as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” and with “diminished faculties in advancing age” – passages in the report that hit on the president’s biggest political vulnerability heading into the general election campaign.

Even as some donors privately express deep concerns at the challenges Biden faces over the coming months, there is near-universal acknowledgement that the opportunity for a Democratic alternative to step forward has long since passed, and that Biden — for all of his struggles — is now what’s standing in the way of another Trump presidency.

“Everyone recognizes the stakes,” one Biden donor said. “Yes, his age will continue to be discussed and talked about. But what’s the alternative? This is the biggest motivator.”

“At the end of the day, what are you gonna do? Are you gonna sit this one out? Doubtful,” another Biden donor said of the thinking among high-dollar donors. “I ultimately think this is about the campaign’s strategy and how we best frame the argument for Joe Biden versus not Donald Trump.”

Biden boosts war chest with eye on Trump

The newly announced fundraising haul follows a steady buildup of the campaign’s war chest, including raising $97 million in the fourth fundraising quarter of last year. The campaign did not provide a breakdown of its donations from high dollar and small dollar donors last month.

With the 2024 election year in full swing, the campaign and Democratic National Committee are now required to report their fundraising totals on a monthly basis, offering more frequent snapshots of the campaign’s financial standing. The campaign has also disclosed its January figures for its joint fundraising committees, which can continue to file reports on a quarterly basis.

It comes as the campaign has set its eyes on Trump, who they believe has all but locked up the GOP nomination. The new fundraising draw coincided with the president ramping up his attacks on his predecessor with the Republican primary in full swing in January.

“While Team Biden-Harris continues to build on its fundraising machine, Republicans are divided – either spending money fighting Donald Trump, or spending money in support of Donald Trump’s extreme and losing agenda,” said campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez.

Biden spent little time on the road fundraising in January, attending only two campaign receptions in Florida at the end of the month. One Miami event hosted by Chris Korge, the national finance chair of the Biden Victory Fund, raised more than $6.2 million, the campaign previously said.

Trump at times has proven to be a motivating factor for Biden’s grassroots donors. The campaign raised more than $1 million in the 24 hours after Biden lambasted his predecessor as a direct threat to democracy in a speech near Valley Forge in Pennsylvania. The team raised a million dollars a day in the three days that followed the Iowa caucuses, which Trump handily won.

The campaign also has worked to further build out its grassroots operation, including adding more than 1 million new emails to their email list last month. They brought in an average of $1 million over 24-hour periods in the final days before the fundraising deadline at month’s end.

“We are particularly proud that January shattered our grassroots fundraising record for a third straight month,” said senior communications advisor TJ Ducklo. “This haul will go directly to reaching the voters who will decide this election. That’s reason number 355 million that we are confident President Biden and Vice President Harris will win this November” – an apparent nod to the $355 million Trump has to pay after last week’s New York civil fraud case ruling, a rare acknowledgement of the former president’s legal woes by the campaign.

The campaign is also looking at how it can boost fundraising in the months ahead. An email sent in first lady Dr. Jill Biden’s name criticizing the special counsel’s report this month was the campaign’s most lucrative fundraising email besides the president’s campaign launch in April.

And Biden’s team has already seen heavy interest in next month’s New York City event featuring former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. They’ve run email contests for small-dollar donors to attend, and there’s a possibility the format could be replicated later this year if it’s as successful as officials expect.

In California this week, the president will attend a fundraiser hosted by Democratic megadonor and entertainment mogul Haim Saban, his wife Cheryl and Casey Wasserman, a sports and media executive who is chairman of LA28, the committee organizing the 2028 Summer Olympics.

Biden will also participate in a small, high-dollar fundraiser with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco on Wednesday. He will attend another fundraiser hosted by Bob Klein and Danielle Gutman along with Steve Westly.

Donor world watches Biden

In private fundraisers where longtime Democratic donors are able to see and hear Biden at close range, most walk away believing firmly in his capabilities and fitness for another term, one major donor said. Many comment afterward that the depictions they see on television or social media of a frail senior citizen are distorted or wrong, this donor added.

At Biden’s events, he often delivers a familiar set of remarks tailored to the specific crowd; for example, he’s spoken about climate change at events hosted by environmentalists and on his record on Black unemployment with groups of African Americans. He later participates in question-and-answer sessions without reporters present.

He often delves more deeply into his foreign policy record in off-camera fundraisers than he does at public events; it is at fundraisers that Biden has declared Chinese President Xi Jinping a “dictator” and where he accused Israel of “indiscriminate bombing” in Gaza.

For many donors who have never seen Biden in person before, the events serve as an opportunity to observe up close a person they’ve previously only watched on television. Many who have attended events over the past few months described him as clear and convincing.

Still, the physical and verbal signs that often lend Biden a sense of frailty – the stiff gait, persistent throat-clearing – sometimes shine through. At a fundraising event held at the New York Mandarin Oriental hotel earlier this month, Biden had to explain he’d swallowed a cough drop, making his cough even worse. And it was at two fundraisers in New York this month that he referred to the late German Chancellor Helmut Kohl instead of Angela Merkel.

Like he does in public, Biden has taken to poking fun at his numerical age to donors; he told a group in New York he was not 81 but “40 times two.”

In many ways, donors are hardly the best gauge of the electorate at large or even of the mood among Democrats generally. Biden has struggled in polls to convince members of his party of the wisdom of running for a second term. Many have said in surveys they would prefer another candidate.

But donors do provide a window into the apparatus that will help fuel Biden’s attempt at reelection and, most likely, his effort at preventing Trump from entering office again.

One Biden donor admitted there was worry within the ranks that many issues facing the president — his age, but also disagreements over his handling of Israel’s war against Hamas — could be calcifying.

“There is concern and worrying, but that is what Democrats do,” the donor said. “There is also recognition that Biden is the man who is running, and we need to do whatever we can to help him beat Trump.”

Another donor who’s seen Biden in recent weeks noted while much focus is on the president’s age, Trump is only a few years younger, adding, “I think real people say I would take the old guy who’s a pretty good president, rather than the old guy who wants to overturn democracy.”

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