The battle for Hollywood cash is reaching fever pitch as Joe Biden’s poll numbers continue to climb and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton struggles to reboot her campaign in the wake of the ongoing flap about her private email server.
“Folks who’ve raised money for Obama in the last election are reaching out to me in increasing numbers,” Jon Cooper, national finance chair for Draft Biden, told TheWrap.
Cooper, a noted bundler for Obama-Biden in 2008 and 2012, said that of the 30 Obama fundraisers he’s spoken to in the last few days, at least half have pledged their support and fundraising abilities to the Vice President.
While that may not sound like much, those close to Biden say many more hope to join the Draft Biden effort but don’t want to risk angering the Clinton campaign unless they know for sure Biden will throw his hat into the ring.
“Another 10 said they’d join tomorrow, but only if and when Biden announces he’s running,” Cooper said.
Another prominent Los Angeles-based Biden bundler told TheWrap he too has seen a dramatic increase in calls in recent days.
“I’ve gotten at least a dozen phone calls from fundraisers in Hollywood who have told me they want to help raise money for Biden,” Dr. Howie Mandel (no relation to the comedian) told TheWrap. “There’s definitely a big movement right now.”
Some prominent Clinton supporters, including former Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, have quietly signaled that they might consider jumping ship.
Of Obama’s 770 biggest donors in 2012, just 52 have committed themselves to Clinton, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. And that, Biden’s supporters point, means a big majority are still up for grabs.
“If Joe enters the race, he’ll be a game-changer,” said Cooper. “I haven’t met one person who doesn’t like Joe Biden.”
But while Clinton’s supporters acknowledge that Biden does in fact enjoy widespread support in Hollywood, they see no evidence of a donor migration towards the Vice President.
“It’s simply not true,” L.A.-based Democratic political consultant Donna Bojarsky told TheWrap. “Maybe a few people, but there’s no Biden groundswell. It’s just not a huge thing.”
Dana Perlman, a Clinton bundler and former Obama-Biden donor, told TheWrap: “I haven’t seen or heard any discontent or movement. Hillary supporters remain firmly supportive of her.”
In recent days, Clinton has attempted to assure supporters and donors that she has what it takes to win the general election.
On Tuesday, Clinton apologized for the first time for her decision to use a private email server for official government use as Secretary of State. “That was a mistake,” she told ABC’s David Muir. “I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility.”
That same day, Clinton was seen laughing and dancing during a taping of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” (scheduled to air on Thursday). This comes soon after her campaign told the New York Times that she aimed to show “more humor and heart.”
Biden donors say industry bigwigs are increasingly getting the jitters. “Even if some bundlers aren’t willing to abandon Hillary altogether, many fundraisers have indicated they would consider supporting both candidates just to cover their bases,” said the Biden operative.
Clinton still holds a double-digit leads among Democrats. In a new poll by Monmouth University released Tuesday, she is drawing 42 percent of Democratic voters, down from 52 percent in August. Meanwhile, Biden has jumped 100 percent to 22 percent — even though he’s not officially in the race.
Meanwhile, Clinton still holds a strong and loyal donor base in Hollywood. She amassed a record $47 million during her first quarter as a candidate, in no small part thanks to Hollywood. Her array of super-PACs and other independent groups have raised millions more.
If Biden decides to run, those on Clinton’s camp say he’ll face an uphill battle when it comes to raising money in Hollywood — long considered Clinton’s turf. The list of celebrities who have already pledged their support to Clinton is long.
Priorities USA Action, the super-PAC supporting Clinton’s presidential run, brought in $15.6 million in the first six months of 2015 — an impressive sum of money that includes a $2 million donation from mogul Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl, plus six other $1 million checks from George Soros, Steven Spielberg, Herb Sandler, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Donald Sussman and the Democratic Fair Share Action super-PAC.
Other donors included J.J. Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath, who each gave $500,000.
Meanwhile Draft Biden, the Super-PAC supporting the Vice President says it’s “on track” to raise $3 million by the end of the month.