Biden Digs Deep Into Wall Street Rolodex to Brace for Fight
(Bloomberg) -- Joe Biden’s campaign has added big-name Democratic fundraisers to the candidate’s national finance committee, including billionaire Penny Pritzker and Avenue Capital Croup’s Marc Lasry, as it braces for a protracted fight for the Democratic nomination.
Muddied or close results in the first few contests paired with multiple candidates who have signaled plans to stay in the race indefinitely drag the nominating contest deep into the year, and Biden’s camp argued Friday that it’s ready for the fight.
“The VP remains in a strong position to perform well in the first four states and on Super Tuesday, but we’re also planning for an extended process into the summer,” campaign manager Greg Schultz said in a memo to Biden supporters, hinting that the campaign expects Bernie Sanders will stay in the race at least until the end of the primary calendar, even if he doesn’t have a delegate advantage.
“Monday’s contest begins the process, it doesn’t end it,” Schultz said. “And, it’s a process we are fully prepared and well-positioned to win.” After falling behind top opponents in raising money, January has been Biden’s “strongest month of fund raising since launch,” he said, with much of the growth coming online.
Setting the Bar
While Schultz’s memo could be interpreted as an effort to lower expectations ahead of an uncertain showing on Monday, so he could tout the results if Biden does reasonably well, it could also be seen as an effort to head off panic among Biden’s supporters should he perform poorly.
For months, Biden’s top aides have stressed that their strategy doesn’t rely upon wins in Iowa or New Hampshire as much as it does on strong performances later in February in Nevada and South Carolina, and on Super Tuesday, March 3. But before Biden began falling behind Sanders in a variety of national and key-state polls, they hadn’t acknowledged the possibility that the nomination fight would stay competitive deep into the primary calendar.
Currently, Biden trails Sanders in the RealClearPolitics polling average.
In Iowa, Biden and his team are expecting a close finish, the candidate insisted. “I think it’s going to be just a tossup here. It has been all the way along,” Biden told reporters in Mount Pleasant at the end of a day of campaigning that took him to small events in three towns in the southeastern corner of the state.
Still he projected optimism, even as operatives and pundits in Iowa have become more skeptical about his chances. “I’ve said from the beginning I expect to do well. I probably shouldn’t tell you that, but I expect to do well,” he said.
However Monday night’s caucuses turn out, Biden said he doesn’t see those results defining the race – at least for him if he doesn’t win. “It’s not as consequential in one sense as it has been in years past,” he said. New Hampshire will be “a real uphill race as it always is for a non-New Englander.” Both Sanders and Warren are from neighboring states.
The calendar becomes more favorable to him after that. “I feel very strongly that we have a great firewall in South Carolina. I think we’re in a position where we’ll do very well in Nevada,” he said.
In addition to teasing a strong fundraising announcement as January comes to a close, Schultz big-name Democratic fundraisers who have joined Biden’s finance committee, including Pritzker, the former U.S. Commerce Secretary; former Ambassadors Jane Hartley and Rufus Gifford; Lasry, chairman and CEO of Avenue; Mark Gallogly, managing principal and co-founder of private equity firm Centerbridge Partners; Blair Effron, co-founder of investment banking firm Centerview Partners; and Alex Heckler, founding and managing partner of LSN Partners, a Miami Beach-based consulting firm.
Schultz said he anticipates there will be only a small difference between the number of delegates among the top candidates after the Iowa and New Hampshire contests. That will benefit Biden, who has led polls of South Carolina by double-digits for months. To help with delegate strategy, Biden’s campaign has hired David Huynh, a veteran of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and Kamala Harris’s campaign, as delegate adviser. Schultz said that having Huynh, a top expert on delegate strategy, on board will be an “enormous advantage.”
(An earlier version corrected the affiliation of Blair Effron.)
(DISCLAIMER: Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic nomination for president. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)
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