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Biden campaign signals openness to super PACs as tool to defeat Trump

Biden campaign signals openness to super PACs as tool to defeat Trump
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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Obama: Republican Party members believe 'white males are victims' MORE appeared to signal openness to using a super PAC to bolster his presidential bid, arguing it could be needed to counter a massive fundraising operation by President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE.

Biden’s campaign said in a statement to The Hill that the former vice president would still work to end the use of Super PACs should he win the presidency.

But it noted that nothing would change until President Trump is unseated given that Trump and his allies would be spending "more than a billion dollars" to reelect him.

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“In this time of political crisis, it is not surprising that those who are dedicated to defeating Donald Trump are organizing in every way permitted by current law to bring an end to his disastrous presidency,” Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said. “Nothing changes unless we defeat Donald Trump.” 

The statement was first reported by NBC News.

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Super PACs have come under fire in the 2020 Democratic primary, with several presidential contenders like Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenKamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Mnuchin to put 5B in COVID-19 relief funds beyond successor's reach No, the government cannot seize, break or 'bypass' pharmaceutical patents — even for COVID-19 MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersClyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Prepare for buyers' remorse when Biden/Harris nationalize health care Biden: 'Difficult decision' to staff administration with House, Senate members MORE (I-Vt.) swearing off alliances with such groups and vowing to raise money mainly from small donors.

Super PACs are independent political organizations that can raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions and individuals. They are not allowed to formally coordinate directly with any candidate or party.

Biden, a centrist who has seen his poll numbers slide and has lagged in fundraising compared to his competitors, was quickly met with criticism from progressives.

“The former Vice President has been unable to generate grassroots support, and now his campaign is endorsing an effort to buy the primary through a super PAC that can rake in unlimited cash from billionaires and corporations. That’s not how we defeat Trump. It’s a recipe to maintain a corrupt political system which enriches wealthy donors and leaves the working class behind,” Sanders said in a statement. 

In her statement, Bedingfield did not definitively say Biden would work with a super PAC and maintained that he would push for an end to Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that first allowed the unlimited political expenditures.

However, she hinted that Democrats needed to match Republican fundraising as President Trump and the Republican National Committee amass a gargantuan war chest. The two have combined to raise more than $100 million in each of the previous two quarters, dwarfing the amount raised by Democratic contenders.

“Until we have these badly needed reforms, we will see more than a billion dollars in spending by Trump and his allies to reelect this corrupt president,” Bedingfield told NBC News. “He and his allies are already spending [a] massive amount of money on paid television and digital advertising to intervene directly in Democratic primaries with the goal of preventing Joe Biden, the opponent that Trump fears most, from becoming the Democratic nominee.”

The statement comes as Biden faces questions about the strength of his campaign. He struggled to raise as much money as his 2020 Democratic rivals in the third quarter of 2019 and spent more than he raised in those three months.

Filings with the Federal Election Commission showed that the former vice president finished the third quarter with just under $9 million cash on hand, while Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Mexican president breaks with other world leaders, refusing to acknowledge Biden win until election is finalized MORE (D-Calif.) had $33.7 million, $25.7 million and $10.5 million, respectively. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete Buttigieg'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' Biden's win is not a policy mandate — he should govern accordingly MORE also raked in $23.4 million. 

The campaign admitted in a fundraising email to supporters after the filings went out that it is “worried” about its finances. 

“I hate to say it, but our opponents are way ahead of us when it comes to money in the bank,” Elana Firsht, the Biden campaign’s online fundraising director, said in an email to supporters. “If we don’t pick up the pace here, we might have to make budget cuts that could seriously hurt our momentum in this primary.”