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.