Biden faces Dems’ anxiety
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden is confronting growing anxiety among would-be allies in the Democratic establishment about his ability to win the presidential nomination following underwhelming debate performances, lagging fundraising and withering attacks from rivals in his own party and from President Donald Trump.
The former vice president’s bank account is better suited for a city council race than a presidential election, warns Terry McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor and Democratic National Committee chairman.
Democratic donor Robert Zimmerman describes group “therapy sessions” with some party financiers haranguing the direction of the race. And in New Hampshire, state House Speaker Steve Shurtleff is leaning toward backing Biden, but says “people wish he’d be a little more forceful.”
Their concern is heightened by the rise of Elizabeth Warren, a progressive long viewed by current and former elected officials, big donors and veteran strategists as too liberal to beat Trump in the general election. Warren and Biden are essentially tied at the top of the race with the rest of the field lagging behind.
With first votes in the Democratic primary fast approaching, the new dynamic is sparking widespread frustration among establishment Democrats who have increasingly begun to speak out about the direction of the 2020 contest as they implore Democratic donors sitting on millions of dollars to get off the sidelines to bolster Biden’s candidacy.
“Every dinner party and cocktail party becomes a therapy session,” said Zimmerman, a member of the Democratic National Committee based in New York.
Others direct their concerns at Biden.
“I hear concerns about gaffes on this and that” and the campaign trajectory, said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, recalling donor calls he’s made on Biden’s behalf.
Despite the worries, Biden’s support among primary voters shows no sign of cratering — even with Trump and his allies trying to dig up dirt on Biden’s son’s work in Ukraine. While Warren has gained on Biden in many polls and fundraising, the former vice president has remained roughly steady in polls of national Democratic voters.
And perhaps most importantly, he is still the strong favorite among black voters whose support is decisive in a Democratic primary.