Joe Biden readies major endorsements and message of strength ahead of likely 2020 run – CNNPolitics

Joe Biden didn’t clear the field, so he’s poised to join it.

The former vice president’s anticipated entry into the 2020 race is the last major factor looming over the opening chapter of the Democratic primary. After a likely announcement in April, Biden is hoping to seize command of the highly-fluid contest through major endorsements, a message of strength and an argument that the party’s most urgent task should be defeating President Donald Trump, Democrats familiar with his plans tell .
“It can’t go on like this, folks. I know I get criticized and told I get criticized by the new left,” Biden said in a weekend speech to Delaware Democrats, before almost announcing he was running for president.
“I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the United States — anybody who would run!”
His verbal slip — intentional or not — drew laughter in the room and considerable attention outside, but it was the words “new left” that may have offered the best clue about how he plans to run a third bid for the White House. He plans to emphasize the record of the Obama administration over his own long record from the Senate and intends to push back on any notion he’s not progressive enough for today’s Democratic Party.
As he prepares for a possible run, Biden has hunkered down for strategy sessions with a tight knit group of advisers and held meetings with top Democrats and elected officials. One subject of discussion has been the early selection of a running mate, which one aide said would help keep the focus of the primary fight on the ultimate goal of unseating Trump.
Last week, Biden stirred speculation as he met privately with Stacey Abrams, a Democratic rising star who ran for governor in Georgia last fall and is weighing another run for office — potentially even the presidency. Biden requested the meeting, according to a person familiar with the sit-down, which comes as the two mull their own respective political futures. Abrams also huddled with a half-dozen other Democratic presidential hopefuls, but her meeting with Biden takes on added weight because of his attempts to shore up support among black leaders amid lingering questions about his treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings and his support for a sweeping crime bill two decades ago.
Biden’s team has started gaming out scenarios for what a campaign launch could look like with Wilmington, Delaware, and Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Biden was born, among several potential locations floated for an announcement rally, a source with knowledge of the discussions said. While the rest of the Democratic field settles into place, Biden’s allies say the former vice president is keenly aware of the attention any announcement will draw.
“His launch will be watched by many, many eyeballs to see how he pulls it off, how much he raises,” one Democratic donor in touch with Biden and his advisers said. “That’s always been the question mark with him — his discipline and his capability to execute a campaign.”
One lingering question for Biden is his ability to fundraise, particularly on the small dollar, grassroots level. Other Democratic contenders like former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Bernie Sanders have relied on massive online fundraising lists to churn out impressive fundraising figures of about $6 million.
“I think he in certain ways has been wise to string this out because the shorter the race, the better for him. He doesn’t have the same demands that others have except for one that’s going to be a challenge perhaps for him and that’s raising money,” said David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama and a senior CNN political commentator. “Joe Biden’s not by generation and nature a social media candidate. So he can’t delay this much longer. He has to get around to the business of raising the resources that he needs.”
Biden has already said he won’t rely on a super PAC and as he teased a possible presidential run last week. “Our elections are drowning in money, and every dark dollar chips away at our faith in the system. You’re going to hear a lot about this before it’s all over, I’m not in a position to tell you now,” he said.
Another question facing Biden: Can he meet the mood and the moment of today’s Democratic Party? The answer is one that could dominate the next phase of the primary fight.
“I love Joe Biden. I really do,” said Tom Courtney, a longtime Iowa activist and chairman of the Des Moines County Democratic Party. “But there comes a moment when it’s time to not run.”
That is a common refrain that voters and party officials have expressed during interviews in recent weeks, while Biden has dropped hints about jumping into the race. Many quickly qualify their adoration of the former vice president, with some saying they worry about the personal toll losing the nomination would take, while others politely argue it’s time to pass the torch.
But as the conversation with Courtney lingered late last week in Burlington, Iowa, as O’Rourke visited on the first day of his candidacy, he ultimately came around to the idea of a Biden candidacy — “if he picks a good, much younger vice president.”



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