Biden donors lying in wait
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Major fundraisers for Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenAndrew Cuomo: Biden has best chance at 'main goal' of beating Trump Poll: Buttigieg tops Harris, O'Rourke as momentum builds Buttigieg responds to accusation of pushing a 'hate hoax' about Pence MORE’s past campaigns have not committed to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump rips Krugman, NYT after columnist writes GOP no longer believes in American values Klobuchar jokes to Cuomo: 'I feel you creeping over my shoulder' but 'not in a Trumpian manner' Dems seek to rein in calls for impeachment MORE, leaving the vice president’s allies convinced he can win the financial support necessary to challenge her.

Biden would face a financial giant in the Clinton campaign, which has won over many of President Obama’s fundraisers and has a vast financial network.

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But a number of big donors with ties to Biden have not thrown their support to the Democratic front-runner.

And Clinton, who already faces an unexpectedly tough challenge from liberal Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersAndrew Cuomo: Biden has best chance at 'main goal' of beating Trump Poll: Buttigieg tops Harris, O'Rourke as momentum builds Buttigieg responds to accusation of pushing a 'hate hoax' about Pence MORE (I-Vt.), has seen doubts creep into her campaign as she has dealt with the controversy surrounding her use of a private email account as secretary of State.

“If VP Biden decides to run I will support him 100 percent,” New York attorney Richard J. Davis, a campaign bundler for Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign, told The Hill. Davis is a long-term Democratic supporter who served as assistant secretary of the Treasury Department during the Carter administration.

The organization urging Biden to run for President — Draft Biden 2016 — would not comment specifically on its fundraising challenges.

It did say it believes it can provide the resources necessary for Biden to hit the ground running if he launches a campaign.

John Cooney, an Illinois attorney who was a major fundraiser in the legal community for Biden during his 2008 presidential run, said he was in close contact with Draft Biden 2016 and would support the vice president "all the way."
 
"I am a fan of [former] secretary [Clinton] but I am encouraging Joe to run," Cooney said. "Joe's considering running very seriously. ... I'm hopeful that he'll throw his hat in the ring."
 
Over the past decade Cooney has personally donated more than $600,000 to Democratic candidates and he has likely bundled significantly more than that.
 
Cooney said he's read the speculation that Biden would not be able to raise enough money but he said that, judging by his conversations with friends in the legal community and Democratic fundraising networks, he did not believe the vice president would have any problems raising enough cash to compete with Clinton. 
 
"I speak to people in my world," Cooney said. "I think there's a great deal of support for this man."
 
A number of big moneymen with ties to Biden could be positioned to help the vice president.

Delaware attorney Stuart Grant, who bundled more than $200,000 for Obama in 2012, would not speak on the record but he is a long-time friend of the Biden family and has not committed to Clinton.

Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, whom Forbes estimated to be worth $1.2 billion in 2008, has also not committed to Clinton.  

Angelos, who did not return a call requesting comment for this story, is a major player in Democratic fundraising and one of a small — but growing — group on the left who are willing to write super-PAC checks (he gave $500,000 to the pro-Obama super-PAC Priorities USA Action in 2012).

Angelos has raised money for Biden in the past and his law firm ranks in the top five of career contributors to Biden campaigns.

Other Biden bundlers who have not made donations to Clinton or her super-PAC are former Biden staffer turned communications executive Larry Rasky, whose PR firm donated nearly $300,000 to candidates since 2005; New York fund manager Scott Lawlor; and California attorney William Levin. 

Biden will need support from these bundlers or other deep-pocketed supporters to compete with Clinton who, by entering the race, has already vacuumed up much of the Democratic Party’s establishment support.

Many of these supporters see Clinton as the Democrat most likely to win.

Billionaire California investor Marc Nathanson has already given $250,000 to the pro-Clinton super-PAC, Priorities USA Action. Nathanson says he is a “big fan” of Joe Biden and has worked with him in the past, but will spend what it takes to get Clinton elected, even with Biden in the race.

“I believe the Democratic Party needs to unite behind Hillary,” Nathanson said. “I believe she’s the candidate who’s going to win the election. … So no matter which Democrat runs, whether it’s Bernie Sanders or if Joe Biden came into the race, I am 100 percent for Hillary.”

Asked what he was prepared to spend on Clinton, Nathanson replied, “We all have upper limits but who knows what they are.”

Some fundraisers are open about not wanting Biden to enter the race.

If Biden does decide to run, it would create a messier primary for Clinton, who might end up splitting some Democratic support with the vice president.

Others see little policy difference between the two veteran politicians.

“I don’t really savor Biden’s entry into the race. I don’t think he would add anything,” said Obama bundler Daniel Berger, a Philadelphia attorney backing Clinton.

Berger, who bundled more than $100,000 for Obama in 2012, said he will raise as much as possible for Clinton in 2016.

Berger said Biden occupies the same “centrist” lane as Clinton and he could not see what difference the vice president would offer in terms of policy.

A review of Federal Election Commission (FEC) records finds that at least a dozen Obama bundlers who have donated to Biden in the past have already written checks to Clinton for her 2016 campaign.

These include David Cohen, the senior executive vice president of Comcast Corp., who with his wife Rhonda helped raise millions for Obama.

The Cohens are already registered as “Hillblazers” — a list of individuals who have already helped raise more than $100,000 in donations for Clinton’s primary campaign.

Major Obama donors who are now 2016 “Hillblazers” include Florida attorney Mitchell Berger, New York financier Blair Effron, New Jersey public relations executive Michael Kempner, Texas attorney Marc Stanley and New York financier Jay Snyder.

The Draft Biden super-PAC reported raising about $80,000 in its midyear FEC report, but a spokesperson for the group said it had since picked up steam. A turning point in the group’s seriousness occurred when Josh Alcorn, a former political adviser and fundraiser to the late Beau Biden, joined the organization earlier this month.

“Thousands of Americans have voiced their support for the vice president by making financial contributions to the Draft Biden 2016 campaign,” the spokesperson said. “Based on these pledges, we plan to raise $2.5 to $3 million over the next few weeks.”

Yet, to mount a serious presidential campaign, Biden’s super-PAC will need many millions more. 

The vice president's fundraising ability is “really questionable, besides the fact he’s off to a late start,” said Berger.

Since Biden last ran for president in 2008, the rise of super-PACs has changed the way presidential campaigns are run.

A single billionaire can keep a presidential campaign alive, while smaller fundraisers have seen their importance wane.

New York attorney James Kreindler, a Biden supporter in 2008, is connected to a family foundation that has given generously to charities and to Dartmouth College. But he has only spent about $150,000 at the federal level over the past 15 years. 

“I know I don’t have that much money or that many rich friends. … By today’s numbers [I’m] inconsequential,” he said.

This story was updated at 6:28 p.m.