2020 Elections

Joe Biden loses support of top campaign fundraiser in Bay Area after comments on segregationists and Hyde amendment

Key Points
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden lost a key financial supporter after his comments on working with segregationists and flip flopping on the Hyde Amendment.
  • Tom McInerney informed Biden's team last week he can no longer back his campaign.
  • "I would imagine I'm not alone," he tells CNBC.
Democratic presidential hopeful former US Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. speaks during the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, June 27, 2019.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden lost one of his top fundraisers after controversial comments regarding his work with past segregationists and his flip-flop on repealing the Hyde Amendment, CNBC has learned.

Tom McInerney, a veteran San Francisco based lawyer, informed Biden's team on June 20 that he can no longer help him raise campaign cash to compete in the 2020 presidential election.

"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, reflecting on Biden's debate performance on Thursday night.

While McInerney is the first financier to publicly withdraw his support after Biden's controversial round of comments, the loss is significant because it could be a harbinger of further defections.

"I would imagine I'm not alone," said McInerney, who was a lead bundler for President Barack Obama in his first run for president. He helped Obama's campaign raise at least $200,000 throughout that cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

The news comes as Biden is starting a Bay Area fundraising tour on Friday that will continue through the weekend.

Biden's campaign has been reeling from his latest stumbles.

At a recent fundraiser, Biden recalled his days as a senator from Delaware, working alongside two segregationist lawmakers, including Sen. James Eastland, D-Miss.

"At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn't agree on much of anything," Biden said at the time. "Today, you look at the other side and you're the enemy."

Earlier this month, Biden went back and forth publicly over whether he supported the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding for most abortions. He eventually declared he was against the law.

A spokesperson for Biden did not return a request for comment.

Sen. Kamala Harris and Joe Biden spar over record on race
Sen. Kamala Harris and Joe Biden spar over record on race

Biden's work with segregationists became a sore point for him in Thursday's debate in Miami. Sen. Kamala Harris used his comments to question the former vice president's record on busing and race relations.

When Biden was in the Senate in the 1970s, he sought support from segregationists in his fight against busing.

"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. "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 labeled Harris' attacks as a "mischaracterization" and fired back, criticizing her for becoming a prosecutor while he was a public defender.

"Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America?," Harris responded.

"I did not oppose busing in America," Biden snapped back. "What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education."