Politics

Biden and the DNC start to lay the groundwork for a joint fundraising effort to take on Trump

Key Points
  • The Democratic National Committee is planning to hold talks with Joe Biden's campaign about how the two organizations will work on a joint fundraising effort.
  • The partnership could include teaming up to raise money through a new committee. 
  • These talks will be the next step for Biden and the DNC as they gear up to take on President Donald Trump in November's election, after Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out.
Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden delivers a foreign policy address in New York, January 7, 2020.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

The Democratic National Committee is planning to hold talks with Joe Biden's campaign about how the two organizations will work on a joint fundraising effort, which could include teaming up to raise money through a new committee. 

"We will have conversations with the campaign and figure out the best path forward that puts our nominee in the best position possible in order to beat Donald Trump," said Daniel Wessel, a representative for the DNC, after CNBC asked whether a new committee was in the works. 

These talks will be the next step for Biden and the DNC as they gear up to take on President Donald Trump in November's election, after Sen. Bernie Sanders, Biden's sole remaining challenger, dropped out of the primary race Wednesday.

Donors close to the party's leadership say they anticipate a joint effort to be put together rather quickly. Others noted that Biden will see a major bump in fundraising and operational support when they agree to work together. 

Biden, meanwhile, called on Sanders' supporters to back his campaign for president after the Vermont lawmaker withdrew from the primary. 

"I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country. I hope you will join us," Biden said. 

Sanders said he would continue to attempt to win delegates in a bid to influence the Democratic platform at the party's convention in August. Yet Sanders' decision to drop out nonetheless leaves Biden as the apparent nominee and allows the former vice president to raise more campaign cash to take on Trump and the GOP's massive war chest.

A joint fundraising committee would allow Biden and the party to bolster their operations. Big money donors often give six-figure checks to these groups. Those funds are then transferred to the campaign, the committee and state parties. Individual donors are allowed to give a campaign a maximum of $2,800 for the primary and general election campaigns.

"It will be a big help once it's underway," Kenneth Jarin, a partner at Ballard Spahr and a bundler for Biden, told CNBC, noting that most party donors expected the former vice president to become the apparent nominee after resounding victories on Super Tuesday. "Everything certainly helps. It's always good to clear the field and have the race defined as one on one against a failing and utterly incompetent president," he added 

Other financiers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely, said they expect a joint fundraising committee to be crafted in the coming weeks. The DNC's own donor pool is preparing to back it as these types of committees often help at amplifying voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts, they added. 

"It will happen soon," one bundler on Wall Street close to the party's leadership told CNBC, while declining to comment further. "Bernie was the last obstacle," said another finance executive helping Biden. "It'll be a big deal because the DNC and other committees have their own pool of donors and resources." 

Biden's campaign has seen an increase in fundraising since he dominated in the South Carolina primary at the end of February and racked up a sizable delegate advantage in early March. The campaign said it raised more than $30 million online last month. Trump and the Republican National Committee, however, have combined with their joint fundraising groups to raise more than $600 million since January 2019. 

A joint committee could also be a boost to the DNC, because, while it has raised over $115 million in the 2020 election cycle, the organization only has $14 million on hand. Its last Federal Election Commission filing shows the committee is $6 million in debt. 

"On the political and operational side, I think there's a clear path now for increasing cooperation between the DNC and the Biden campaign," former DNC Chairman Don Fowler told CNBC. "Because, differing from four years ago, there is no Bernie Sanders there and the DNC doesn't have to worry about being fair to him." 

Biden, Trump and candidates for other offices have been forced off the trail and onto the digital realm as the coronavirus spread, leading to restrictions on large public gatherings.

While Biden continues to hold virtual fundraising events, the final two weeks of March could show a dip in the amount he's raised. The former vice president has ceded the spotlight to Trump, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and members of Congress who have been fighting the virus and its resulting economic devastation. 

Trump and the Republican National Committee already have two joint fundraising accounts in Trump Victory and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee. The two organizations have combined to raise at least $247 million this cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Trump Victory has given out $70 million to the RNC and $20 million to the president's campaign. 

Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, and the DNC worked together through the Hillary Victory Fund. They raised over $500 million, with $158 million going to Clinton's campaign, just over $100 million going to the DNC and the rest divvied up to state parties. 

A spokesman for the Biden campaign did not return a request for comment. 

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