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Democratic megadonor Bernard Schwartz hasn't made up his mind yet on who he will support in the 2020 presidential election.
However, that hasn't stopped him from signaling to his party's leadership that it's time to start appealing to middle-class voters if they want a chance of defeating President Donald Trump in the next election.
In an exclusive interview with CNBC, Schwartz, a CEO of private investment firm BLS Investments LLC, said he's held private dinners and meetings with House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, state governors, donors and nonprofit executives to make his pitch.
"What I've been doing is getting together with Democratic leaders for dinners and conversations. I'm proposing to get together on a unified agenda that all members will rally around," Schwartz said. "I think our problem is we aren't diligent and disciplined enough to parse out our issues and work on solutions that are fundamentally better for the nation. Maybe we ought to learn how to present to the American voter who cares more about putting dinner on the dining room table," he added.
Throughout these gatherings, Schwartz has called on leaders to encourage 2020 candidates to focus on key economic initiatives such as improving the nation's crumbling infrastructure, bettering retirement pensions, education reform and economic equality for all.
Whoever gets the backing from party donors such as Schwartz may have an advantage in what's likely a grueling Democratic primary. (Schwartz has no relation to Brian Schwartz, who wrote this article.)
A spokesman for Pelosi would not confirm or deny the two have spoken. "We don't comment on private conversations," Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, said in an email. A representative from Schumer's office did not return a request for comment.
During the 2016 presidential election, Trump tapped into rural America and promised a form of economic prosperity that then candidate Hillary Clinton could not match. The former secretary of state, on the other hand, had numerous gaffe moments directed at those in the working class including her infamous "basket of deplorables" remark and her threat to put coal companies out of business if she were to become president.
Although she later apologized to the miners, she lost the state of West Virginia, known as coal country, to Trump in the general election by over 40 percentage points. While the state has traditionally swung in favor of Republicans, Trump's margin of victory over Clinton in the Mountain State was the largest for the GOP in over two decades. The last Democrat to win there was her husband, Bill Clinton, during his 1996 re-election bid over then Sen. Bob Dole.
Schwartz and other party financiers are coming off a historic victory as the Democrats picked up a net 40 seats in the House of Representatives during the 2018 congressional midterm elections. Schwartz spent $2.2 million in the past election cycle, including a $750,000 investment in the House Majority PAC, a super PAC dedicated to help Democrats get elected to the House, and $850,000 to the Senate Majority PAC, a group focused on backing Senate Democrats, according to Federal Election Commission records.
While Schwartz would not say who he sees as the megaphone for his message, former Vice President Joe Biden has a knack of connecting with voters and has previously seen support from the New York donor.
Recently, he quietly gave $5,000 to Biden's political action committee, American Possibilities. During the 2008 election, the Democratic financier supported Barack Obama's campaign when he wrote a check for $1,500 in July of that year and continued to financially back his run for the White House once Biden joined the ticket. During the Obama-Biden re-election campaign in 2012, he gave $5,000 to Obama's joint fundraising committee and over $2,500 directly to his campaign.
Another possible 2020 nominee that could see Schwartz's money is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Her joint fundraising committee, the Elizabeth Warren Action Fund, saw a $10,400 donation from Schwartz during the 2018 election cycle.
Other Democrats pondering a run for the White House include Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
Bloomberg is one of the prospective candidates who will most likely not need outside help to make a run for the nomination. With a net worth of $40 billion, Bloomberg is prepared to spend at least $100 million of his own money on a presidential campaign if he jumps into the race.