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 BidenUkrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden campaign taps foreign policy vet Nicholas Burns as adviser: report 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 TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' 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 Sanders'Medicare for All': The hype v. Maryland's reality Biden says he supports paying campaign staff minimum wage Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll 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 ObamaTrump struggles to win over voters reaping economic boom Michelle Obama weighs in on Trump, 'Squad' feud: 'Not my America or your America. It's our America' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite MORE, Bill and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report A question for Robert Mueller MORE and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump says he will meet with Schumer 'ASAP' after border visit Dem senator describes 'overcrowded quarters,' 'harsh odor' at border facilities Top Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties 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 BrownThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment On The Money: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency | Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing | Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses Hillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei 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 HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll New CBS poll shows Biden with 7-point lead in New Hampshire MORE (Calif.), who has been catching the eyes of some fundraisers, raised $1.5 million in her first 24 hours. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage 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.