A new super PAC has formed to support Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, with a declared mission to defend the former vice president against attacks from President Trump and his Republican allies rather than to target Biden’s rivals for the Democratic nomination.
In formally announcing the new group on Wednesday, Unite the Country board chair Mark Doyle said that they are "committed to fighting back against Trump, his allies, the Russians, and the Republican Party — all of whom are engaged in unprecedented attacks against Vice President Biden in order to deny him the Democratic nomination.”
Doyle’s statement came one day after Biden campaign manager Greg Schultz told reporters that the campaign "would be extremely frustrated if the super PAC was used to attack other Democrats.”
Whether the group stays positive toward primary rivals remains to be seen. The new group comes after Biden, facing fundraising struggles, dropped his objections to such a super PAC — to jeers from some primary foes.
“We are here to do our best to try and level the playing field and to use whatever is in the arsenal to take on lies and defend Biden’s record, ” Unite the Country treasurer Larry Rasky told Fox News, pointing to the massive money advantage the Trump reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee have over their Democratic counterparts,
In an email release, the PAC said that the Trump reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee and allied groups have spent $10 million so far this cycle to attack Biden.
“We will not let anybody try to distort Joe Biden’s career,” Rasky said.
Fox News reported last week that the super PAC could be up and running as early as this week. And that was the case, with the group filing Monday with the Federal Election Commission.
In an appearance earlier this week on MSNBC, Biden called the formation of the super PAC a "grassroots response" to the attacks from Trump.
"This is an understandable response from Democrats who desperately don't want to see (Trump) reelected president," Biden explained. "My guess is we would have done the same thing for any Democrats that are attacked in the primary."
Then-senator Biden struggled to raise campaign cash during his unsuccessful 1988 and 2008 runs for the Democratic presidential nomination. But after serving eight years as vice president, Biden’s fundraising woes in his third White House bid come as a bit of a surprise.
Biden had just under $9 million in his campaign coffers as of Oct. 1, after spending more money than he raised during the July-September fundraising quarter. That’s far less than his top rivals Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who reported $25.7 million cash on hand, and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who reported having a whopping $33.7 million in the bank.
Biden raised $15.2 million during the third quarter – far less than the hauls by Sanders and Warren. And he was also topped for a second straight fundraising period by South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Big bucks and dark money in politics has become a major issue in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, with most of the candidates swearing off super PACs. Top-tier Biden rivals Warren and Sanders criticized the former vice president last week after he reversed his opposition to super PACs.
Campaigning in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Sanders touted “I don’t need a super PAC!”
And he spotlighted that “while some of my competitors in the democratic primary process are sitting in the living rooms of billionaires, I’m proud to tell you we’ve received the largest number of donations not just in this campaign but in the history of American politics.”
In publicly unveiling themselves on Wednesday, Unite the Country launched a website and a video, and introduced the senior staff.
Doyle is a former Biden aide who led the veterans-focused nonprofit Rags of Honor. The PAC’s secretary – John MacNeil – is a former president of Moody Street Pictures and a veteran of Biden’s unsuccessful 2008 White House bid. And Rasky’s a longtime Biden friend and adviser who held senior roles in the 1988 and 2008 campaigns.
In recent days, the Federalist and The Washington Times noted that Rasky was recently on the payroll of the government of Azerbaijan. Rasky told Fox News that his firm resigned the account on Aug. 27. He said that his company, Rasky Partners, was hired for three months to do public relations – but no lobbying – for Azerbaijan.
Fox News' Andrew Craft contributed to this report.