Donors Biden their time?

Hey, how many headlines can we get from using Joe Biden’s surname as a pun? Probably at least as long as the faux-suspense of his Hamletesque indecision continues, I’d suppose. However, the number of former Biden donors who have not committed to Hillary Clinton makes this a somewhat more interesting story:

Major fundraisers for Joe Biden’s past campaigns have not committed to Hillary Clinton, leaving the vice president’s allies convinced he can win the financial support necessary to challenge her.

Biden would face a financial giant in the Clinton campaign, which has won over many of President Obama’s fundraisers and already had a vast financial network.

But a number of big donors with ties to Biden have not thrown their support to the Democratic frontrunner.

And Clinton, who already faces an unexpectedly tough challenge from liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has seen doubts creep into her campaign as she has dealt with the controversy surrounding her use of a private email account as secretary of State.

Actually, that’s not the real story either. The Washington Post’s Matea Gold did some digging on Barack Obama’s big donors four years ago. Guess how many of those have committed to Hillary Clinton? Less than 10%:

Many of them are still up for grabs. Of the 770 fundraisers who bundled checks for Obama’s 2012 reelection, just 52 have signed on so far as a“Hillblazer” bundler for Clinton or have hosted a fundraiser for her, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Top Democratic money players — many of whom requested anonymity to describe private conversations — said discussions among senior Obama fundraisers about Biden’s possible bid have taken a serious turn in the past few days.

The news that former Obama administration officials Anita Dunn and Bob Bauer met privately with the vice president Monday night further accelerated a sense of movement toward Biden. Dunn and Bauer declined to comment.

“I think you are going to see a groundswell,” said one prominent party funder, who said that top political aides and fundraisers who backed Obama in 2008 and 2012 are now considering helping the vice president. “There is a lot of enthusiasm on the wires. This feels real.”

That’s an awful lot of cash that Team Hillary has left on the table. Most have assumed that Hillary (and especially Bill) locked up the Democratic donor class more than a year ago. Perhaps that’s because little of it has gone to other candidates, even Bernie Sanders, who’s taking the Howard Dean approach to become a formidable challenge to Hillary Clinton. This shows that there is a lot of room to still get in the primary race, although probably very little time in which to organize.

This prompts the question: Just why are they “Biden” their time? Perhaps many of them don’t want to get involved in a primary fight and want to keep their powder dry for the general election. That decision would make even more sense while based on the assumption that Hillary would finally get the coronation that eluded her seven years ago. Now, with legal and political troubles mounting, the general election bet looks pretty bad. That might move even the dry-powder brigades to rush to the barricades for an alternative.

However … is Biden really worth of white-knight status? He ran two clumsy, embarrassing presidential campaigns, one as a younger man and another as a supposed eminence grise of the Democratic Party, and has done little over the past seven years to improve perceptions of him as a leader. Obama claimed to have picked him for his foreign-policy expertise, but Biden has not been a public part of any significant foreign-policy discussion, especially lately as Obama tries making a tough sale on the Iran deal. He’s been a non-entity, trotted out for a charming photo op or two but normally sidelined.

Maybe Obama’s donors are biding their time for 2020. The prospects don’t look much better in that cycle either, but at least the powder will stay dry.