Will Vice President Joe Biden enter the 2016 presidential race? People who would like to see that happen think he will.
Two leading fundraisers for President Obama have pledged their support for Biden, who hasn't taken any formal steps toward running. Last week, top Obama bundler Jon Cooper signed on to be the national finance chair of the Draft Biden 2016 PAC, an organization encouraging the vice president to enter the race for the White House. Major Obama fundraiser Shiva Sarram also joined the finance team on Wednesday.
The Draft Biden PAC has over 100,000 signatures, teams in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as well as volunteers in every state. While the group won't release its fundraising numbers until the July 15 deadline, executive director William Pierce claims the cash influx exceeded all expectations.
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"This is a rebirth for the VP," Pierce said. But there have been questions as to whether Biden plans on running at all, especially following the recent death of his son Beau Biden.
Both of Biden's sons, Beau and Hunter, reportedly encouraged their father to run for the Oval Office. Biden, who is now 72, has been in politics for over forty years. He previously ran for president in 1988 and 2008. Biden backers hope the third time is a charm.
"People I would describe as being in Biden's inner circle are giving increasingly positive signals that VP Biden will be throwing his hat in the ring," Cooper said. "I would have not agreed to take on this role with Draft Biden unless I thought that Biden would enter the race. Nothing's 100 percent but certainly all signals are pointed in that direction."
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But is it too late for Biden to enter the fray? Hillary Clinton has established herself as the clear front-runner early on, but these days and Bernie Sanders has surged in Iowa and New Hampshire. Biden still outperforms Sanders in some national polls, while other pollsters leave him out entirely.
On June 20, Draft Biden held at event in Davenport, Iowa, a few miles from an event for Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. The Biden event, which the vice president didn't actually attend, attracted 70 supporters compared to fewer than 20 for Santorum.
Sarram, the new member of the Draft Biden national finance team, once raised around $400,000 for Obama's campaign at a single luncheon in 2008. She is well known in Democratic circles for her fundraising abilities. She says she signed up because she is impressed with Biden's "genuine desire to serve."
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"When I look at the current field of Democratic candidates, I'm hungry for the energy I felt during the Obama campaign," Sarram said in a statement. "I also want a candidate who can best carry on the policies and legacy of this administration that we all worked so hard for."
Cooper also joined the campaign in search of the excitement he felt during the Obama campaigns. After raising over $1 million for Obama in 2008 and 2012, he was courted by both Hillary Clinton and Jim Webb. He also had dinner in Manhattan with Martin O'Malley. But he turned them all down in favor of the draft Biden effort.
Cooper reached out to local Obama Victory Trustees fundraisers from 2012 on behalf of Biden. He said that he immediately heard back from five of the fifteen.
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"There's a limited circle of those who fundraise for Obama," Cooper said. "During the last couple of weeks speculation for Biden has increased. There's a palpable excitement."
What's the timeline for a potential 2016 campaign? Pierce believes that if he does announce it will be between mid-July and early August. If he doesn't get in by the end of August, Pierce doubts Biden will run at all.
On July 25, the PAC will hold a rally in the Wilmington, Delaware baseball stadium and hold neighborhood meet-ups throughout the country. The committee's leaders are keeping up hope that their man will get in.
"If he wasn't going to run," Pierce said, "he would have said it by now. And he hasn't said that."
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