Hollywood May Welcome a Joe Biden Candidacy, But Fundraisers Back Hillary Clinton

Joe Biden HRC - H - 2014
Associated Press

Some politicos in the industry say they still want "a real field" of presidential candidates to choose from.

If vice president Joe Biden decides to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination — and that’s a big if — some of liberal Hollywood might welcome the choice, but the industry’s major fundraisers and donors aren’t likely to abandon the former first lady.

Nearly all of those big givers already have committed to Clinton and made seven-figure contributions to her campaign effort. Biden, political strategist Lara Bergthold told The Hollywood Reporter, never “had a huge fundraising base in Hollywood to start with, and HRC has gotten a huge head start.”

Still, it’s probably fair to say that most of Democratic Hollywood holds Biden in the same affectionate regard as the party’s liberal mainstream, which respects him as one of the party’s “stand up guys” and admires his social liberalism and moderate foreign policy savvy.

He was, for example, out front of President Barack Obama on marriage equality and is a strong supporter of Israel. It’s hard to find Democrats in town who don’t like Biden, but maybe harder to find many who’d prefer him to Clinton at this moment. A Biden campaign obviously would lack the emotional cachet of electing the first woman chief executive.

Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon, one of Obama's top fundraisers, speculated that the vice president “actually might” get some traction in Hollywood only because “there’s still the thought that we need choices and a real field to choose from.”

That would be doubly true, in the rare chance that Clinton's run is upended by some unforeseen catastrophic scandalBiden would be the natural figure to whom the party mainstream could turn.

Barring that, however, most of the speculation about a Biden candidacy appears to have as much to do with the press corps’ boredom with the Democratic race as it does with the vice president’s actual ambitions.

The notion of Biden running first surfaced over the weekend in a column by Maureen Dowd, a consistent Clinton antagonist. According to Dowd, Biden has been quietly consulting friends and former contributors about a run for the nomination. 

By her account, the vice president was moved to begin these consultations by a death bed request from his 43-year-old son, Beau, who recently succumbed to brain cancer. All the other reports on a possible Biden run were far less emphatic and relied mainly on sources both tentative and anonymous. If the vice president does make a decision, they said, it will be sometime in September.

The response from Clinton’s campaign has been mannerly and muted. As one aide put it, Biden “is a respected leader of the Democratic Party and has every right to run for president if he wants to.” Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director told Bloomberg News in an email: “We are not going to have any comment on Biden stories except I love the guy!”

Criticizing a Biden candidacy based on a dying son’s last wish does raise delicate political questions. So, too, does Obama’s regard for the vice president’s loyalty and effectiveness. The president has called his selection of the former Delaware senator as his running mate, “the best political decision I ever made.” As a former colleague of Biden’s in the Obama administration, taking issue with that would be awkward for Clinton.

Some of the most analytic campaign observers doubt it ever will come to that. On his FiveThirtyEight website, super pollster Nate Silver wrote Monday that “the problem for Biden is that ... the Democratic Party has already decided in favor of Clinton. As measured by her level of endorsements Clinton has more support at this stage of the primary campaign than any Democrat in the modern era.

“Rank-and-file Democratic voters love Clinton too,” Silver added. “Her favorability ratings within her party range from 75% to 85%, depending on the poll ... Oh, and Clinton has raised $68 million.”

If he were to run, though, most national polls show his beating any of the prospective Republican nominees, even though — at 72 — he would be the oldest man ever to swear the oath of office.