Joe Biden’s Acceptance of Super PAC Shows Campaign’s Desperation

Jerri-Lynn here. Follow the money.

Greg Wilpert: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Greg Wilpert in Baltimore.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign announced on Thursday that it is open to the formation of a so-called super PAC. That is, an independent political action committee that is allowed to raise unlimited donations from corporations, organizations, and individuals. As recently as last month, the Biden campaign had rejected the formation of a Biden for president super PAC. Early last year, Biden even claimed to have recommended to Senator Bernie Sanders not to allow the formation of a super PAC for Bernie’s campaign. Here’s what he said.

Joe Biden: I mean, I sat with Bernie. I’m the guy that told him you shouldn’t accept any money from a super PAC, because people can’t possibly trust you. How a middle class guy except if you … accept money. But here-

Greg Wilpert: So far, all major Democratic party candidates have rejected super PAC money for their campaigns. But just what does this mean that Biden is now willing to have a super PAC support his campaign? Joining me to discuss this issue is Norman Solomon. He’s cofounder of the national organization and national coordinator of rootsaction.org. Also, he’s the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. Thanks for joining us again, Norman.

Norman Solomon: Hey, thanks, Greg.

Greg Wilpert: So we can’t assume that everyone knows what a super PAC is. I briefly explained it in the introduction, but explain a little bit more to us what are they, where do they come from, and why is their involvement in politics an important issue?

Norman Solomon: Well, the bottom line is really, so to speak, is to quote what Biden just said. Super PACs mean that people can’t trust you. Of course, he’s not going to say that now, but the basic thing about super PACs is that they allow for unlimited contributions, and that is literally unlimited. It’s a door that has been opened up by the Supreme Court over the last several years with a couple of major decisions. And so it means that really millions and millions and tens of millions of dollars can very quickly pour into an entity that can do attack ads, and promotional ads, extensively independent from a campaign, but really the faucet has been opened and big money can pour in.

Greg Wilpert: Now, the Biden campaign justified their openness to Biden’s super PAC by saying that Biden has become a particularly large target for the Trump campaign because he is the front runner. Actually, several recent opinion polls show that Elizabeth Warren has overtaken Biden in the past month, which perhaps could be attributed to the Trump attacks. Also, the fact that Trump tried to get the Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son show that he’s indeed Trump’s main target. What do you make of this argument as a justification for Biden allowing the formation of a super PAC?

Norman Solomon: Well, for one thing, I think the major factor for why Biden has gradually been falling in the polls is by the way that he campaigns and speaks and contradictions in his claims versus his record. And those contradictions are very much played out in his current effort to rationalize taking huge money or accepting the huge money going into super PACs on behalf of his campaign. The reality is, the real reason is that he’s an AstroTurf candidate. He’s up against two grassroots candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who are not accepting money from super PACs, are not getting big bucks from corporate CEOs and hedge fund managers and so forth.

And in contrast to Warren and Sanders, when Biden goes out to try and get money from the grassroots online and so forth, there’s not much to be gotten because people are not enthusiastic about him. As I say, as an AstroTurf, the candidates need to be continually remanufactured and have the money pouring into the assembly line of mythology about him and naturally, his campaign budget. And so he’s out of luck right now compared to Warren and Sanders who each raised about $25 million in the last quarter, overwhelmingly in small amounts.

He collected only 15 million in that quarter in much higher, bigger chunks and now more tellingly, has at the end of the last quarter, only $9 million in the bank. Whereas Bernie Sanders for instance, has more than 30 million. So I think part of the explanation is that Biden’s campaign is now in panic mode because they know, especially because they are AstroTurf, that they’re going to need a lot of money to try to overwhelm the grassroots support that Warren and Sanders have. And so they’re really out of options.

So the clip you just played from January last year on the PBS NewsHour where Biden said, “Well, there shouldn’t be acceptance of super PAC money cause then people can’t trust you.” Now he’s got to eat that. He certainly knows, his tacticians know that that soundbite is going to come back to haunt him. But he’s really out of other options, because unless he can more overtly depend on and solicit and be helped by the big corporate interests in the country, his campaign would just run out of sufficient money to keep a viable campaign going through the primary and caucus states.

Greg Wilpert: Now, assuming that these super PACs raise enough money to really compensate for the lack of grassroots fundraising, do you think that they’ll be able to make a difference and actually drive Biden’s campaign forward? That he could eventually become the nominee?

Norman Solomon: Oh, I think he definitely has a real shot at it, whether we consider him or Warren according to the polls to be front runner. The fact is that his biggest base is the billionaires and the multi-multi-multimillionaires who do not like Trump and want a corporate Democrat to be the nominee. And the other crucial base and constituency that Biden has is the corporate media, which increasingly are attacking Elizabeth Warren as she has gained in the polls, have always been hostile to Bernie Sanders.

And so for Biden he has those assets, the deep pockets that now will be coming forth with large contributions to his campaign or on behalf of his candidacy through super PACs. Five figures, potentially six figures. That is a reality. He can depend on that. And then also corporate media which for their own interests in terms of profiteering and the strength of Wall Street and not challenging basic income inequality in this country. Corporate capitalism is rushing to Joe Biden’s defense and support, and as of the last couple of days, we now know Joe Biden is overtly welcoming and appreciating them with open arms through super PACs.

Greg Wilpert: Okay. Well, we’re going to continue to follow this of course, but we’ll leave it there for now. I was speaking to Norman Solomon, cofounder and national coordinator of rootsaction.org. Thanks again, Norman, for having joined us today.

Norman Solomon: Thank you, Greg.

Greg Wilpert: And thank you for joining The Real News Network.

 

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38 comments

  1. HotFlash

    Does this translate to, “Joe Biden’s campaign advisors and strategists are worried about not getting paid?”

    Reply
    1. petal

      This. He won’t be the candidate. They are setting things up now so there’s enough money at the end that everyone can get paid and quietly go home flush. There have been a lot of red flags and I don’t believe he has the strength to make it over the line. It is becoming more visible. Once the primaries start, he’ll fade. I think the candidate will be either Warren, or a player to be named later(been warming to Ambrit’s prediction about Clinton).

      Reply
  2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Joe Friggin Biden.

    I…mean…I…just…can’t…even

    In the length and breadth of this great land, full of so very many astute and smart and clever and hardworking and honest and deserving people. That we arrive where we are at this critical moment in our history, to be led by…an aging and confused old man stuck like a needle in a groove in a recordplayer playing songs from the late 1970s. Doddering fool, glad handing and feel good phrasing his way along, no more powerful statement could be made on the absolute worthlessness of the entire Party structure. Help us Obiwan Kenobi you’re our only hope.

    Reply
    1. 1 Kings

      Hey pod, agree on Joe(He’s been desperate to be Pres his whole life), but don’t lump the late 70″s with him. Last great flowering of our culture, with comedies, actual liberal thought and the best year in music ever—1978. Check it.

      Reply
      1. Randy G

        1 Kings — Lotta great American films from the 1970s with a mind-numbing decline afterwards that continues today….

        But music….? 1978? Unless you are one hell of a Bee Gees fan what exactly was so thrilling? I am still listening to Warren Zevon’s ‘Excitable Boy’ but 1978 is not a year that I couldn’t live without.

        Politely curious–what is on your list that is so awesome?

        Reply
        1. inode_buddha

          Rush “A Farewell to Kings”
          “Hemispheres”
          “Permanent Waves”
          “Exit Stage Left”

          All kinds of stuff by Abba
          The Alan Parsons Project
          Pink Floyd

          … need I keep going?

          Reply
        2. psv

          Funkadelic, “One Nation Under A Groove”. Wire and “Pink Flag”, Blondie and “Parallel Lines” too. Good times!

          Reply
  3. The Rev Kev

    Would any super PAC for him be incorporated in Delaware then? Certainly the education racket, err, industry owes him big time.

    Reply
  4. Synoia

    Ah, the Joe Biden retirement fund, to vest when Biden succeeds in getting Democrats to avoid accountability, to blame President Pence for the collective inaction across the board on Medicare for all, and Cutting the Swamp and MIC to 10% of its current size.

    A presidential campaign designed to come $econd.

    Remember, its his turn!

    Reply
  5. Jesper

    The election is a billion dollar business so I am not surprised that more money is being sought. The situation might be similar to a startup – managers and executives are of course interested in winning (becoming profitable) but they are also (and possibly moreso) interested in raising money for their enterprise so that they themselves can be paid what they are worth (or what they can loot, depending on point of view).

    Reply
  6. divadab

    Good. The rats are trying to repair the sinking ship. Won;t happen.

    But if they manage to push and shove Biden over the line as candidate, get ready for 4 more years of Trump. (WHich will probably happen anyway unless Sanders is the candidate.)

    Stupid Democrats. As stupid as only the utterly compromised and bought. What a disgrace.

    Reply
    1. John Wright

      Stupid is the wrong word.

      “Calculating Democrats” may be a better description as the Democrats attempt to lose in a manner that keeps the grift flowing into the party (and their extended families).

      Irrelevance for the big donors is to be avoided.

      Irrelevance to the voters, not a problem.

      Reply
      1. John k

        Democrats own one big thing of huge value to corps… the right to deny progressives ballot access. If they ever mess this up they’re toast, and they know it.
        You had one job!?!

        Reply
  7. ptb

    Yep so $15.7mm raised, $17.7mm spent, before TV ad season even starts. $9mm balance = 4.5 months of runway at this rate. Makes sense.

    Good ol J.B.
    The corporate dixiecrat everybody loves
    Sponsored by SomePAC

    Reply
  8. Susan the Other

    from the beginning of this campaign season my sense of Biden’s behavior was that he was simply a spoiler. He’s in there to spoil Bernie’s campaign; to confuse enough voters to cause Bernie to lose the primary. Biden’s no fool. He knows he’s a total has been. But that doesn’t really matter. His agenda is probably to get Liz elected. Because she’s the only other possibility besides Bernie. Probably the most foolish thing Bernie could do if he does win the primary is take Liz as his running mate. Creating a very dangerous situation for himself.

    Reply
    1. Quill

      That contradicts the simple reality that he really, really doesn’t like her and hasn’t since they clashed over the 2005 bankruptcy bill. In addition, what his presence in the race has done isn’t block Bernie or Liz, but crowd out other moderate candidates and African American candidates.

      He really does want to be President. And, he isn’t a horrible person or a bad guy. He’s just not what the country needs in 2020.

      Reply
    1. inode_buddha

      Oh? who bought and paid for Bernie? I see that he has been fighting the same issues since the 1960’s. I also see that his campaign has millions of individual small donors.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        it requires an alternate strategy of “building fame” rather than raising money from big donors. Noone without a lot of name recognition and some popularity of course (Biden lacks the popularity), is going to pull off relying on small donors in hugely expensive contests. Elizabeth Warren probably could, as at this point she has big name recognition and unlike Biden actual supporters (no it’s not overlapping with the Bernie base), but isn’t going to as she still plans to take money in the general.

        But if some one who only held state level office wanted to run for Prez they should probably do a trial run first where they get their name out there (consider this Bernie’s 2016) and then run seriously. This is probably necessary even for those taking super PAC money, it might be what some candidates who really aren’t going to win are actually attempting. Because if fame is the new money …

        Reply
    2. Massinissa

      Yeah, and in Bernies case hes bought and paid for by US rather than Plutocrats, who universally despise him. The Plutocrats are funding the rest of them, even Warren. Why bother voting for candidates funded by them?

      Reply
  9. John k

    Liz can be flustered, this news may get her to snuggle closer to Corp dems, maybe even to get her own pac…
    The shifting identities of Liz… I can be right wing, left or centrist. What do you want?
    Good for Bernie if true.

    Reply
    1. marym

      “PACs can give $5,000 to a candidate committee per election (primary, general or special). They can also give up to $15,000 annually to any national party committee, and $5,000 annually to any other PAC. PACs may receive up to $5,000 from any one individual, PAC or party committee per calendar year.”

      Super PACs “…make no contributions to candidates or parties. They do, however make independent expenditures in federal races – running ads or sending mail or communicating in other ways with messages that specifically advocate the election or defeat of a specific candidate. There are no limits or restrictions on the sources of funds that may be used for these expenditures.”

      https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacfaq.php

      Reply
  10. sharonsj

    Biden? Hell, no. If he ends up the nominee, I’m dropping out of everything and becoming a total prepper. Once our economy is toast thanks to the fraudulent banks, African swine flu, climate change, and the heartland crops devastation, even Trump’s base will realize we’ve all been screwed.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      ” If he ends up the nominee, I’m dropping out of everything and becoming a total prepper”
      aye. i figger it’s pretty much over if it ain’t bernie swearing in in january 2021.
      alternative is trump=>pence or one of the corpsedems, either of whom spell doom and further decline.

      “becoming a total prepper”= civilisation’s appendix/backup drive.

      “dropping out is a revolutionary act”-Wulf Zendik
      (i actually met that guy , once…total weirdness!…but he was right about this:https://wulfzendik.wordpress.com/drop-out/)

      Reply
    2. Massinissa

      It might be better to just become a prepper, period. I love Bernie, hes great, but the Jackpot will happen and the most Bernie can do is blunt that and spare us pain at least in the short term.

      Not that I actually believe prepping will actually help anyone realistically survive said Jackpot, but I digress.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “…the most Bernie can do is blunt that and spare us pain at least in the short term.”

        the moral philosopher in me reckons that it matters HOW we enter our decline and fall…as rapacious fire monkeys, f&cking in the mud, or as something a little more compassionate and sublime.
        I’m not ready to concede the field to the hyperinstrumentalists and bean counters…capitalism is a tautology, and a universal church…the hardest yet to resist.
        but resist it we must.
        it’s funny, in a very morbid way, that the priests of capitalism insist that it’s all about Choice….and yet deny that we have a choice in accepting their narrow and suicidal religion.
        https://aeon.co/essays/capitalism-is-modernitys-most-beguiling-dangerous-enchantment

        Reply
  11. ChrisPacific

    I have something of a soft spot for Biden, purely because he is so bad at pretending not to be a corporate shill. Even the ones that were fooled by Obama and Clinton can see right through him. It has been kind of entertaining watching his team try to spin the fiction, and Biden only occasionally bothering to play along.

    Reply
  12. Quill

    Reality is messier. Biden’s support, which is both real and broad is (i) concentrated among less well off Democrats who are less likely to donate online; (ii) skews older, which again is a group less likely to donate online and (iii) is higher among non-activists, which again skews against those making small donations.

    In short, Biden is a candidate almost perfectly designed not to be competitive in a 21st century primary fund-raising environment.

    And, honestly, Biden is not the choice of corporate or monied interests in particular, except to the extent that he is not Elizabeth Warren. They are equally happy to donate to Pete Butiegieg and would cheerfully back someone else who had a shot.

    Reply

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