Biden in Hub to rally top donors

By Noah Bierman
Globe Staff / March 22, 2011

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Vice President Joe Biden came to the top of the John Hancock Tower in downtown Boston yesterday afternoon to rally about 100 elite Democratic financial backers, part of an early round of national stops designed to help President Obama generate as much as $1 billion for his 2012 reelection campaign.

Democratic officials said they did not collect any money at yesterday’s cocktail party, held on the 58th floor amid a mild spring snowstorm. The guests, who drank from an open bar and snacked on rare beef tenderloin crostini as soft jazz played, were being courted for future financial help.

Biden, who was introduced by Governor Deval Patrick, offered about 20 minutes of remarks, praising both the crowd and the president. Biden also took a jab at the Tea Party movement and conservative fiscal policies that he said would undermine the economy while swelling the budget deficit.

His primary goal was building enthusiasm among Boston’s top Democratic fund-raisers.

“I would not be standing here. [Obama] would not be representing the United States of America in South America right now were it not for the work of you folks in this room, and probably another 1,000 like you all across America,’’ Biden said.

He thanked the crowd, including health care entrepreneur Jack Connors, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, for its influence as much as its money.

“Our shot at getting reelected is through you and the same way you did it the last time,’’ he said.

In addition to the cocktail party gathering, Biden also met with a smaller group of supporters in Connors’s 60th-floor office, the highest floor in the skyscraper. Connors is the lead fund-raiser for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, and, like others in attendance, has wide influence on other potential fund-raisers.

Yesterday’s visit appears to be part of an early phase of the campaign, before it officially launches. In recent weeks, Obama has made a similar pitch to top donors in Washington, D.C., and Biden has addressed elite fund-raisers in New York.

The Washington Post has estimated that the campaign could raise as much as $1 billion in its fund-raising effort.

Obama came to Boston about two weeks ago to raise money for Democratic congressional candidates.

Biden, in recounting Obama’s record, said the administration could work with Republican leaders. But he criticized more conservative members for fiscal policies that he said would hurt economic growth while enlarging the deficit.

“They mix up the Tea Party that took place in Boston Harbor and the Tea Party they represent,’’ he said.

But Biden also called it a “myth’’ that the White House cannot work with Republicans, pointing to the 17-day lame duck session late last year as more productive “than any time in the last two years.’’

Biden also emphasized the tough times Obama has faced, both at home and abroad, as he attempted to build the case that the president has made difficult decisions that have put the country on the right footing.

Patrick, who is being groomed as a key national Obama spokesman for the reelection campaign, addressed the small crowd in a more fiery tone than Biden, who was hoarse at times yesterday and seldom raised his voice.

“We stopped the red tide here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and we have many of you to thank for that,’’ Patrick said as he introduced Biden, referring to his reelection last year in an otherwise tough year for Democrats around the country.

Patrick said that Republicans “have set as their goal, not how to make a better country, but to stop this administration.’’

Noah Bierman can be reached at