Politics

Former Obama fundraising chief calls on over 700 bundlers to back Joe Biden's surging campaign

Key Points
  • The architect of President Barack Obama's 2012 fundraising juggernaut has reached out to more than 700 bundlers in a bid to convince them to back Joe Biden's candidacy as he rides momentum from his Super Tuesday triumphs. 
  • Beyond the attempt to recruit former Obama financiers, Biden's allies have been speaking to potential staffing recruits that could help the former vice president and the party as a whole.
  • The overall goal is to turn Biden's campaign, which had struggled to raise money, into a national fundraising force that will have the ability to continue to fend off Bernie Sanders and defeat President Donald Trump. 
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden reacts while giving a speech during a campaign event at Tougaloo College on March 08, 2020 in Tougaloo, Mississippi.
Jonathan Bachman | Getty Images

The architect of President Barack Obama's 2012 fundraising juggernaut has reached out to more than 700 bundlers in a bid to convince them to back Joe Biden's candidacy as he rides momentum from his Super Tuesday triumphs. 

Rufus Gifford, who was the finance director for Obama's reelection campaign, sent an email just before Super Tuesday to hundreds of fundraisers who combined to help raise millions of dollars in 2012. Most of the email recipients were on Obama's national finance committees for both his 2008 and 2012 runs for office, according to Gifford, who spoke with CNBC on Monday. 

"If you believe as I do that Vice President Joe Biden is our best (and perhaps last?) hope to defeat Donald Trump and recapture the soul of our nation, we need to ensure that the Biden Campaign is well funded," Gifford, who was also the ambassador to Denmark under Obama, said in the email to his network. "I am hoping that all of you will consider signing up this week – I will introduce you to your regional staff and get you set up.  We can and will win this if we can put this team back together." 

In 2012, Obama outraised his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, by a margin of almost 2 to 1, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Obama finished the election cycle bringing in over $720 million while Romney raised just under $450 million. Obama's massive haul came in part from small-dollar donors: $234 million came from contributors giving $200 or less. 

These new efforts for Biden come as he surges ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders in the battle for delegates. Polls show that the former vice president is on the verge of a dominating performance in Michigan's primary on Tuesday. The overall goal is to turn Biden's campaign, that struggled to raise money at the outset, into a national fundraising juggernaut that will have the ability to continue to fend off Sanders and eventually overtake President Donald Trump. 

Last week, as Biden picked up hundreds of delegates on Super Tuesday, the campaign saw millions of dollars in commitments from donors who were waiting on the sidelines of the 2020 Democratic primary. 

While Gifford would not say who has signed up in the wake of his email, he explained that it is clear that the response he has received shows establishment Democrats are rallying around Biden. 

"There does seem to be a meeting of the minds to back the Joe Biden candidacy," Gifford said. There has been a round of cohesion around Biden." 

Beyond the attempt to recruit former Obama financiers, Gifford and other Biden allies have been speaking to potential staffing recruits that could help the former vice president and the party as a whole. Anthony Mercurio, the former national investment director for Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign, has spoken with Gifford about getting back into the 2020 election and either working for Biden's operation, the super PAC Unite the Country or the Democratic National Committee. Buttigieg dropped out of the race just before Super Tuesday and later endorsed Biden for president. 

Another Biden supporter, who declined to be named as these discussions were deemed private, said allies of the former vice president's are encouraging the campaign to hire Shari Yost Gold, a fundraising consultant for Sen. Kamala Harris. Gold signed on to help former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's campaign for president.  Bloomberg dropped out of the race on Wednesday and endorsed Biden. 

As for Biden's current crop of fundraisers, the campaign's list notes a bunch of former Obama fundraisers, including Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg. Yet there are some who have yet to start fundraising solely for the former vice president as they were backing or advising multiple campaigns.

Music producer Nicole Avant, along with her husband, Netflix executive Ted Sarandos, helped raise at least $500,000 for Obama's 2012 reelection. Avant was listed as one of Buttigieg's bundlers. 

Brian Mathis, the founding partner of asset management firm Pine Street, was a member of Obama's 2008 national finance committee. He had helped Harris before she dropped out. 

Martin Nesbitt, a co-CEO of Chicago-based private equity firm the Vistria Group, hosted a fundraiser for former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick before he dropped out the race. He was a member of Obama's 2008 national finance committee. 

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