The $6.3 million that former Vice President Joe Biden raised in the first 24 hours after he announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday is more than any of his 19 competitors collected in the 24 hours following their announcements. But it would be wrong to think this means he’s the odds-on favorite to run against President Trump in 2020, let alone defeat him.

I’m a Democrat who, like most in my party, has not decided at this early stage in the race for the White House who to support. But like millions of other Democrats, I want my party to nominate someone who can defeat President Trump.

Trump has proven himself to be unfit for the presidency and the American people need to tell him – to borrow a phrase – “you’re fired!”


I was a member of the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign staff and was a delegate for Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. So I’ve seen the inner workings of campaigns and experienced both victory and defeat.

At this point Biden – with near-universal name recognition after serving for eight years as vice president – is off to a strong start. The $6.3 million he raised in 24 hours came from nearly 97,000 donors, qualifying him to participate in the Democratic primary debates.

But with 19 other candidates competing for votes, Biden is far from having the support of a majority of Democrats. Many consider him too old (at 76), too moderate, too gaffe-prone, and stuck in a time warp when it comes to his treatment of women. Even before he announced his candidacy these criticisms of him surfaced, and his opponents are sure to keep bringing them up.

Reaction to Biden among Democrats is definitely mixed.

Those on the left wing of the party argue that Democrats should nominate someone advocating for radical changes that will reshape society, sharply increase taxes on the rich, and expand government programs.

But centrists argue that a moderate nominee like Biden is needed to appeal to conservative Democrats, independents and Republicans, taking votes away from Trump.

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. – a self-described democratic socialist – pointed out that Biden’s first official campaign event was a high-dollar ticketed fundraiser that was jointly hosted by a big-shot lobbyist, a health insurance company CEO and the head of a big law firm.

In other words, Biden has already clearly branded himself as part of the Establishment, turning to the old ways of raising large amounts of money. Most Democratic presidential candidates are focusing on small donors, making the point that they want to represent ordinary citizens and not special interests.

Still, history has shown that many front-runners at the start of presidential nomination races never make it to the finish line.

But Biden has most likely also managed to simultaneously rake in plenty of small-dollar donations, indicated by the fact that he has collected so many individual contributions. He is having his cake and eating it too, immediately establishing himself as the clear early front-runner.

Still, history has shown that many front-runners at the start of presidential nomination races never make it to the finish line.

I will be curious to see if my colleagues on the left will stand for the old way of doing things.  The snarky criticism that I’ve been hearing for months is that Biden is too “old school,” “too centrist,” and that he is not a reflection of the emerging electorate. But I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing.

I would argue that most Americans fall somewhere in the center politically – not too far to the left or right. Biden could very well hit that proverbial feel-good sweet spot for us. I saw quite a bit of relief Thursday as well that Biden had finally announced, which we had been told would come back in January.

The general consensus that I am hearing is that exciting candidates new to the national scene, like Mayor Pete Buttigieg, are the ones many Democrats want to vote for – but only if one of these candidates can go on to send Trump into retirement.


Biden certainly has the name ID and fundraising capabilities with the potential to make Trump a one-term president. But the question that we are asking ourselves is whether he has what it takes to get the millions of apathetic registered voters who stayed home in the 2016 elections motivated to turn out at the polls in 2020.

Only time will tell, but right now we are all watching anxiously to see who has what it takes to capture the imagination and votes of the American people. Biden and his 19 competitors will now have to convince us that they are the person for the job.

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