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2020: Top Dem Donors Tell Joe Biden They Won’t Raise Money for Him

Biden, Obama BRENDAN SMIALOWSKIAFPGetty Images
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKIAFPGetty Images
JOSHUA CAPLAN

A handful of leading Democrat donors recently told former Vice President Joe Biden that they would not raise early-stage campaign funds for him if he were to run for president in 2020, according to a report.

According to CNBC, several donors declined Biden’s request to bundle campaign contributions due to their skepticism regarding whether the 76-year-old establishmentarian could survive a bruising Democrat primary.

CNBC reports:

Biden, who has yet to announce whether he will run, has reached out to leading financiers over the past week to see whether they will help him raise money for a presidential run. His pitch: He will need their assistance to compete against candidates, such as Beto O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders, who have raised millions of dollars over the first 24 hours of their campaigns, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

[D]uring those calls, some high-profile donors told Biden that they will not commit to bundling for him, at least in the early stages of the primary, said the people, who declined to be named. The donors told Biden they’re not yet convinced he can overtake the younger, more diverse and progressive field, and that they are going to wait to see how he competes in the race, the people added.

However, the prospective millionaire donors reportedly committed to Biden that they would donate the maximum amount they’re legally allowed to dole out during an election cycle: A mere $2,700.

One anonymous billion told CNBC:

I told him, ‘I can donate but I don’t think I can raise you money today.’ The sense we’re getting [from other donors] is yes, he’s a good guy and everybody knows him, but he has run for president a couple times and it didn’t always work out. I think with Biden there’s a feeling of ‘I like him, he’s a really good guy, but he’d be running at a moment in time that a 76-year-old white guy may not be what voters want.’ I don’t want to give chits today for Joe. What’s my benefit?”

Talk of Biden’s traction issue with big money donors comes as some deep-pocketed bundlers say they’re looking to support former Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke’s (D-TX) presidential bid.

Chicago financier Louis Susman, among former President Barack Obama’s largest campaign fundraisers, told the business outlet he is discussing with “family and friends” about supporting O’Rourke.

Susman, an early supporter of Obama’s 2008 White House bid, served as the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom between 2009 and 2013. A top Democrat fundraiser for years, Susman was appointed finance chairman of John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

“It’s time to pass the torch to a new generation,” Susman told CNN last December. “I have nothing against the Bidens and Kerrys of the world and all of these senators that are looking at it, but I think the Beto example is what inspired people and what we are going to need.”

High-flying investor Mark Gallogly, another Obama bundler, has also reportedly signaled to associates that he is likely to get behind the Texas Democrat.

This week, Wall Street Journal reported Biden is growing increasingly worried he may not be able to match the initial fundraising numbers of O’Rourke and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who raised $6.1 million and $5.9 million each.

Adding to Biden’s concerns is his viability as an older, white candidate among a roster of young and diverse contenders.

Advisers for Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign-in-waiting are considering whether to name failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams as his running mate out of the gate, Axios reported Thursday morning.

Biden aides are said to think adding Abrams to the ticket would convey to voters that he’s not “just another old white guy,” but worry the move would be interpreted as a “gimmick” that attracts more criticism than praise.

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