Talk of Vice President Joe Biden challenging Hillary Clinton for the White House in 2016 is suddenly sending shudders throughout Hollywood – and comparisons to a certain Apprentice billionaire. “Right now (Donald) Trump and his divisive big mouth are a gift to the Democrats,” a politically well-connected insider says. “If Biden does jump in, he’ll become our Trump and the Republicans’ biggest asset overnight. The guy never knows when to think before he speaks.”
Since entering the GOP race in mid-June and almost immediately causing controversy for his remarks over immigrants, Trump has dominated the headlines and his opponents with his crafted blunt and often outrageous and offensive style. “Everybody like a disrupter until it’s your guys being disrupted,” says the insider of the consequences of an eleventh-hour Biden bid. Unlike the self-financing Trump, Biden would have to come up with a lot of cash fast to even compete with Clinton. If the VP does go for the top job, he is expected to make it official in the next month or so.
With a Draft Biden event set for tonight at Hutchinson Cocktail & Grill in West Hollywood, political power players in town want to see the brakes put on any as-yet-unannounced campaign by the verbose Veep. “Joe Biden has been a good and loyal Vice President to Obama but he’s failed twice before running for the White House and he’s waited too long to seriously run now,” said an exec who has been a deep-pocket donor to President Barack Obama and the former Secretary of State, who is in town tomorrow for another fundraiser. “That’s going to come back to haunt him, along with all those gaffes over the years.”
Still, while not at Obama or Clinton levels, Biden has been a strong fundraiser for the Democrats over the years. During his last traffic jam-creating visit to LA on July 22, Biden was the headliner at an evening Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser at the Beverly Wilshire. Talk of a Biden 2016 run was in the air at the event, but the Vice President kept his own counsel, attendees say. Expected to be packed by political operatives as opposed to check-writing studio chiefs and producers, tonight’s Draft Biden meeting comes just one day before Clinton returns for more dosh from the always-reliable Tinseltown cash machine. The math doesn’t add up well in Draft Biden’s favor, with the unofficial group having raised just under $89,000 this year.
Even Biden’s well-regarded strong and early support for same-sex marriage won’t earn the VP the financial support a Democrat needs from Hollywood to make a credible race. “He’ll get invited to a lot of good parties for the rest of his life, but it won’t make him President,” said one producer who attended the April 2012 event with LGBT supporters at Lombardo and his partner Sonny Ward’s house. Biden has cited that occasion as the turning point on his attitude towards same-sex marriages and families. It was the positive reaction to the VP’s initial expression of support that lead the previously publicly reticent Obama to fully back same-sex marriage on May 9, 2012 – one day before a record-breaking $15 million re-election fundraiser at George Clooney’s L.A. home.
On Thursday, Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun and his wife Yael Cohen are hosting the latest $2,700-a-ticket Conversation With Hillary fundraiser. While organizers are pushing this as a music-biz-centric gathering, big-spending movie supporters like Jeffrey Katzenberg, who has given $1 million to a Clinton-backing SuperPAC this year and was Obama’s top bundler in 2012, are expected to be in attendance. This will be the ex-First Lady’s third trip to L.A. for cash in less than four months. With well heeled events hosted by the likes of Haim Saban in May and at the home of HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo in June, her efforts have paid off. Recent federal election filings reveal the Clinton campaign has directly raised almost $16 million in the first part of 2015 – over a third of that coming from Hollywood fundraisers and similar industry events.
The Clinton love-in at the house that Bieber built also comes the same day the top-tier GOP candidates square off on Fox News Channel for their first debate. With a commanding lead in the polls over the likes of Jeb Bush and Gov. Scott Walker, Trump is expected to be the center of attention on and off stage. But if Hollywood has its way, Biden won’t become the center of attention for the Democrats — even though it’s nothing personal.
“A lot of people in town like Joe Biden, like a lot of people like Bernie Sanders, but that doesn’t mean they think he can win next year,” a top-level insider points out. “Biden and Bernie get the blood flowing, but Hillary has the momentum with her organization, her roots in the community and the money. She and Bill cultivated this town starting before he was President and will continue to do so when she’s President.”