Biden seeks donors as he eyes presidential bid

Biden seeks donors as he eyes presidential bid
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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe Robinette BidenBiden calls for unity, jabs at Trump in campaign launch Here are the potential candidates still eyeing 2020 bids Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off MORE is trying to get donors to commit to his presidential campaign before launching a much-anticipated bid in the coming weeks.

Sources close to Biden expect him to enter the race, but they say he is trying to get his fundraising in line in an effort to start strong out of the gates.

“It’s a priority,” said one Biden ally, who is familiar with the former vice president’s planning. “If you don't have a good second quarter showing that could be problematic.” 

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Biden has been making the rounds in recent weeks, calling donor after donor to earn their support. 

The former vice president has a pitch: He explains how he intends to win in a competitive Democratic Party and then go on to beat President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls for Republicans to be 'united' on abortion Tlaib calls on Amash to join impeachment resolution Facebook temporarily suspended conservative commentator Candace Owens MORE in the 2020 general election. Biden talks about the midterms and how he was the only surrogate for candidates who could campaign in both blue and red states. 

The pitches for support from Biden are important, allies say, since fundraising has been a weakness for the former vice president. 

They say asking for checks doesn’t come naturally to Biden, and they worry about how he'll compete with rivals such as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHere are the potential candidates still eyeing 2020 bids Sanders unveils education plan that would ban for-profit charter schools Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off MORE (I-Vt.), who raked in $10 million in less than a week after joining the race. 

“It's never really been his thing,” said one major Democratic fundraiser, adding that Biden never really had to fundraise in all his years dating back to his time as a senator. “And the truth is, he's never been very good at it.”

Biden never had to secure big checks when he was a senator because ad-buying in Delaware is relatively cheap compared to other markets, supporters say. Partly as a result, he doesn’t have the dollar network enjoyed by some of his peers. 

“There's been an Obama circle, a Clinton circle, even a Schumer circle but the man has been on the scene for 40 years and I can't think of a Biden circle, nationally,” another prominent Democratic donor said, explaining the vast web of check-writers surrounding Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden calls for unity, jabs at Trump in campaign launch Several factors have hindered 'next up' presidential candidates in recent years Lewandowski: Why Joe Biden won't make it to the White House — again MORE, Bill and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWarren policy ideas show signs of paying off Biden at campaign kickoff event: I don't have to be 'angry' to win Top Dem: Trump helps GOP erase enthusiasm gap; Ohio a big problem MORE and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGetting serious about infrastructure Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act 'SleepyCreepy Joe' and 'Crazy Bernie': Trump seeks to define 2020 Dems with insults MORE (D-N.Y.). 

When Biden ran for president during the 2008 cycle he raised $11.3 million, but that total came in well below his $20 million goal to compete in the early states. 

He raised less money than Clinton and Obama and exited the race after receiving 1 percent in the Iowa caucuses. 

But after eight years as vice president, Biden is a more formidable foe in 2020. 

He has a ton of appeal as a surrogate who is welcome in both blue and red states. In addition, he can now leverage some of Obama’s donor network at a time when many are feeling nostalgic about the Obama years. 

The former vice president also has gotten used to working the crowd at fundraisers, some donors say. 

Last fall, Biden “lit up the crowd,” as one donor put it, when he appeared at an intimate Los Angeles fundraiser co-hosted by Hollywood heavyweight Jeffrey Katzenberg and other Democratic bundlers. 

Biden ended up raising $100,000 for his PAC American Possibilities, which helped midterm candidates. 

“He was very impressive,” one fundraiser in the room recalled. 

During the midterm election cycle last year, Biden headlined a string of fundraisers for the campaigns of everyone from Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownLawmakers grapple with the future of America's workforce The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Restrictive state abortion laws ignite fiery 2020 debate On The Money: Mnuchin signals officials won't release Trump tax returns | Trump to hold off on auto tariffs | WH nears deal with Mexico, Canada on metal tariffs | GOP fears trade war fallout for farmers | Warren, regulator spar over Wells Fargo MORE (D-Ohio), who may launch a White House bid of his own, and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). 

If he enters the race, Biden will be the front-runner in an increasingly crowded field and he will have a staff in place, as The Hill reported this week. 

But allies acknowledge he faces fundraising hurdles. 

Sanders and others will be stiff competition, and many of Biden’s rivals have a head start. While it’s still early in the cycle, some donors — even those who were once Obama fundraisers and donors — are already committing to candidates.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHere are the potential candidates still eyeing 2020 bids Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off Hillicon Valley: Florida county that backed Trump was one of two hacked by Russians | Sandberg pushes back on calls to break up Facebook | Conservative groups ask WH to end Amazon talks over Pentagon contract MORE (Calif.), who has been catching the eyes of some fundraisers, raised $1.5 million in her first 24 hours. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharInslee gives public option first test in Washington state Momentum builds behind push to pass laws enshrining abortion rights Poll: Biden is only Dem candidate that beats Trump outside of margin of error MORE (Minn.) raised $1 million in her first 48 hours. 

Sanders raised his $10 million from about 360,000 donors with an average contribution of around $30. 

“Sanders and Biden are both in their seventies but the age of their supporters is the difference between silver and gold,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. “Sanders supporters may not be rich but they are young and passionate and are addicted to social media which makes it easy for Bernie to tap their PayPal or ActBlue online accounts."

“Biden supporters have more money but they’re not as passionate or accessible on social media,” Bannon said. “Biden has to rely on fundraising events and big donors who are suspect in the minds of the rank-and-file primary voters who abhor big money in politics.” 

At an event this week at the University of Delaware, Biden declared he would “not be part of a super PAC.” But super PACs, which can take unlimited contributions from donors, are separate operations from campaigns. 

And longtime advisers say they feel confident he will be able to secure both large and small dollar donations.

“People connect with him and I suspect there will be an outpouring of support if he decides to run,” the adviser said.