Questions about Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness and electability, following her alleged mishandling of classified information, along with new polling, has some Hollywood donors excited about the prospect of a challenge from Vice President Joe Biden.
While the vice president is said to be considering a run at the White House, a popular opinion that his candidacy would be unprepared to gain a solid footing among the mega-rich appears to be changing, and some donors have already given large sums of cash to back him.
Industry news site TheWrap spoke to a number of Democratic insiders in the wake of two new polls, and with the addition of former Obama campaign strategist Steven Schale to the Draft Biden 2015 super PAC as an informal adviser, enthusiasm for an alternative to Hillary, specifically Biden, is on the rise.
A Wednesday CNN/ORC poll shows 53 percent of Democrats would like to see Biden challenge Hillary, while a Thursday Quinnipiac poll shows Biden performing better against GOP candidates than Clinton in key swing states.
The Quinnipiac poll also showed Republican frontrunner Trump beating Clinton in a general election match-up, 43 percent to 41 percent.
Jon Cooper, the National Finance Chair for Draft Biden, along with others, holds the opinion that Steven Schale’s presence is a sign Biden will soon announce his candidacy.
“Steve Schale is one of the preeminent political strategists, not just in Florida, but in the entire country,” Cooper told the site.
An undisclosed, but “prominent” Democratic strategist supporting Clinton told TheWrap Biden is unprepared to secure big Hollywood donors, both because of his late entrance, and his lack of solid relationships with major donors.
Still, others disagree with that assertion.
Josh Alcorn, a former advisor working for Biden’s late son, Beau, has also joined the Draft Biden super PAC, and prominent Los Angeles Democratic donor Howie Mandel, not to be confused with TV star Howie Mandel, tells TheWrap, “I don’t think the Bidens would have allowed either of them to jump on board unless they really wanted to do this.”
The Draft Biden Super PAC member added: “Josh has been a close friend of Beau and the Biden family. He still counts the days since Beau’s death.”
Beau Biden reportedly encouraged his father to challenge Hillary for the party’s nomination, shortly before his death from brain cancer in May. Alcorn previously worked to raise more than $1 million for Beau during his 2013 gubernatorial run in Delaware.
Those and other factors lead many in Hollywood to believe Biden is on the cusp of running, and Mandel and others disagree with an establishment view that Biden could not compete with Hillary’s industry deep roots, citing a lack of trust for Clinton, and her supposed entitlement to the party’s support.
“I’ve spoke to a lot of people who said to me, ‘Listen, I’ve already given money to Secretary Clinton but I’m not thrilled with her campaign and her lack of trustworthiness. If the Vice President jumps in I’m there,’” Mandel reportedly said.
Mandel also told the site he has been contacted by deep-pocketed donors, and said many had already been giving to Biden.
“I’ve been impressed with the generosity of donors,” Mandel said. “A lot of people in Hollywood are not happy with what’s been going on. They don’t want to see a coronation.”
While the possibility of a schism among Hollywood’s elite may come as a surprise to some, others predicted weakness in Hillary’s unified backing as far back as April, prior to her official campaign announcement.
“You’d be surprised by the number of people I’ve heard from who aren’t supporting her,” an anonymous Hollywood executive told The Hollywood Reporter on April 12.
Other sources told the site then Hillary’s age and “moderate” views could make her weak, and some expressed hope Elizabeth Warren would seek the party’s nomination.