Vice President Biden is reportedly ruminating over a presidential run. One argument pro-Hillary Clinton Democrats have used is that in the past Biden has been a weak fundraiser. On its face, that’s terribly out of date, as he is now VP and is looked at very differently by donors and the public at large. But it has prompted Democrats clearly favoring Biden to send a very overt signal to the Clinton crowd.
The possibility that Vice President Biden may jump into the 2016 presidential campaign is convulsing the network of wealthy Democrats that financed President Obama’s two White House bids, galvanizing fundraisers underwhelmed by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s performance.
A wide swath of party financiers is already convinced that Biden will make a late entry into the race and a sizeable number are now contemplating backing him, including some who have already signed on with Clinton, according to more than a dozen top Democratic fundraisers around the country.
Take that, Hillary. If “there is growing unease among some of Obama’s biggest financial backers about the controversy over Clinton’s use of a private e-mail” and Biden “developed personal relationships with donors around the country as Obama’s running mate,” then money may not be as great a factor as one might think. Also, Clinton and her super PAC may be hamstrung in how they would use their money. A traditional super PAC role has been to attack the opponent in ways the candidate does not want to be seen directly. But attack the VP, who is wrestling with the death of his son? Even the Clinton crowd is not tone deaf.
Even if Biden does not run, the lack of support for Hillary Clinton is startling. (“Of the 770 fundraisers who bundled checks for Obama’s 2012 reelection, just 52 have signed on so far as a ‘Hillblazer’ bundler for Clinton or have hosted a fundraiser for her, according to a Washington Post analysis.”) This is the woman who spent years with many top Democratic donors, soliciting funds for her foundation and speaking to party elites (for a hefty sum). After all that, her potential donors won’t ask others for money and would even consider abandoning her altogether? Even more extraordinary is to see Democratic donors go on record. So much for the fear of the Clintons. She commands not much affection but even worse instills no fear.
Given truth serum, any candidate or presidential staffer will readily admit that donors want, above all else, a winner. Especially when there is little difference politically between Clinton and Biden (it’s not like one of them opposes abortion on demand or cap and trade) it boils down to the issue of electability. Donors read the public polls and maybe some non-public ones. They can see how badly she is now running in swing states against Republicans. They’d be foolish not to look for an alternative.
For Clinton, then, the Biden flurry is simply confirmation of what her critics have long suspected. Her support is wide but not deep with the base. The donor class likes her if she’s a sure thing but is panicking and not tied to her. That’s why the Biden run has become plausible.