Joe Biden’s entry into the presidential race has solidified his status as the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. He’s the first choice of around 40 percent of Democrats, according to polls . No other candidate is close.
But how do the friends and associates of Barack Obama feel about Biden? The Washington Post tried to find out. It says it interviewed 53 “former Obama advisers, senior White House and Cabinet staff, and campaign professionals” about Biden’s presidential bid.
As a group, these folks aren’t enthusiastic about Biden, according to the Post. He has “yet to become [their] consensus pick.”
Indeed, only eight of the 53 said they are committed to or leaning toward the former vice president. Eleven have committed to other candidates. The remaining 34 said they are waiting to decide.
The lack of enthusiasm for Biden is understandable. A cohort that was in the vanguard of a “hope and change” movement isn’t going to be happy that, 12 years later, the Democrats might nominate a thoroughly uninspiring establishment hack like Joe Biden.
Where’s the “hope and change” in that?
As one of the interviewees reminded the Post, Obama selected Biden because he was a vanilla guy who could reassure voters that the black man at the head of the ticket wasn’t a radical. To end up with the vanilla guy leading the party would feel like a bad joke — a whimper, not a bang.
Which candidates other than Biden appeal to the Obama gang? According to the Post, support is split among Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Beto O’Rourke. None supports Bernie Sanders. That’s too much bang.
The Post also analyzed donations by 1,300 major donors to Obama’s two presidential campaigns. Only about 10 percent have made contributions of $2,700 dollars or more to a candidate this early in the cycle. Harris tops the list, followed by Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand. Keep in mind, however, that Biden didn’t enter the race until after the reporting deadline on contributions.
The extent to which Obama’s associates end up backing Biden will depend, I think, on how he performs on the campaign trail and in polls. If Biden remains the clear-cut frontrunner, I expect Obama’s people, many of whom probably aspire to serve in the next Democratic administration, to fall in line.
If Biden under performs, most in the group the Post interviewed will likely steer clear of the former vice president. If a particular candidate other than Sanders emerges from the pack as a strong challenger, they will probably flock to him or her.
I think most of the 53 are hoping for that scenario.