Wealthy Democratic Fundraisers Are Ready For Biden

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Aug 27, 2015 7:10 PM
Wealthy Democratic Fundraisers Are Ready For Biden

So, everyone is freaking out about Biden 2016. The White House pretty much gave the vice president the green light to run, and Bill Clinton is "agitated" at the mere thought of a Biden candidacy. Former Iowa Democratic Senator (and Clinton supporter) Tom Harkin is urging Biden not to toss his hat in the ring.

“I just don’t think this would be a wise move,” he said in a phone interview with The New York Times. He noted that Biden could continue his career in public life by being secretary of state or UN ambassador. Leah wrote earlier today that even Biden is wondering if he has the “emotional fuel” to mount a third presidential run. A point that highlights one of his weaknesses: he’s old.

Yet, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the vice president has nothing to lose with a third run for the presidency. He has supporters in the party, has a small grassroots army ready to take the plunge, and donors ready to line up behind him. It might be enough to mount an effort in South Carolina. There’s plenty of time before 2016 gets going in Iowa, which is why some wealthy Democratic donors, including those who bankrolled both of Obama’s elections, are sitting on the fence (via WaPo):

A wide swath of party financiers is convinced that Biden will make a late entry into the race, and a sizable number are contemplating backing him, including some who have signed on with Clinton, according to more than a dozen top Democratic fundraisers nationwide.

Their potential support — driven in part by a desire to recapture the passion they felt in Obama’s campaigns — could play a key role in helping the vice president decide whether to make a third White House bid. The chatter among a cadre of well-connected party fundraisers suggests that he could benefit from an early jolt of money should he run.

[…]

Biden would face a tight scramble to raise money this far along on the calendar. Because donors can give a campaign only up to $2,700, he probably would have to lean heavily on a super PAC, which could accept unlimited sums, a move that would be distasteful to many liberal voters.

[…]

Many of the president’s fundraisers are still up for grabs. Of the 770 people who collected checks for Obama’s 2012 reelection bid, just 52 have signed on as a “Hillblazer” bundler for Clinton or have held a fundraiser for her, according to a Washington Post analysis.

[…]

Even donors who are committed to Clinton say they expect that many fellow fundraisers would jump to Biden — particularly those who think they would be bit players in the massive fundraising operation gearing up for the former secretary of state.

There might be staff defections to Biden from the Clinton camp if he runs, but there’s also some hesitancy among those within the Obama administration (via Politico):

“I don’t know what the official line will be,” said one West Wing staffer, “but you will have a lot of people in the building rooting for him.”

“Even if their mind is with Clinton,” the staffer added, reflecting feelings of others heard in the White House, “their heart is with the vice president.”

“If he decides to go on with this,” echoed a former senior Obama campaign official, “there will be a lot of people who make heart-and-gut decisions as opposed to head decisions.”

[…]

If Biden got in at this point, “a lot of Obama folks would be like, ‘We love him,’” said another Obama campaign aide, “but I don’t see the path for him.”

But Brian VanRiper, who ran veterans outreach for Obama during the 2008 Iowa caucuses and became friendly with Beau Biden while the latter was campaigning for his father in the caucuses, said he’s already given to Draft Biden and been in touch with Obama donors to try to make that path happen.

“I hope he gets in it,” VanRiper said. “It needs to snowball.”

VanRiper added that his wife, a 2008 Obama bundler who was the Los Angeles chair of Obama’s Gen 44 effort, is right there with him: “She’s all in for Biden.”

Biden met with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) secretly last weekend, and met with the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka earlier today. Yet, we’ll probably get a closer sense about the seriousness of his 2016 ambitions when he heads to Florida on September 2, as he headlines a fundraiser in support of incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. The Wall Street Journal’s Carol Lee wrote that it’s “an opportunity for a vice president who has been reaching out to Democratic donors as he determines the level of support he would have should he make a third run for the White House” in this critical key swing state.

Still, the headwinds are against the vice president. Nevertheless, if he’s able to start something by the time South Carolina arrives, it could get interesting. In fact, Ed wrote that it could "get ugly fast” between the Clinton and Biden camps fast.  At the same time, we shouldn't be shocked if the Biden train figures out it simply doesn't have the fuel to go on a sustained national campaign. Nevertheless, the money and support are there for a challenge.