Opinion: Joe Biden is no Barack Obama on the rubber chicken circuit


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Clearly, Barack Obama didn’t pick Joe Biden because of his fundraising prowe$$.

Compared to Obama -- and nearly every other presidential candidate in 2008 -- Biden was a piker.


Through Dec. 31, Biden had reported raising $8.2 million in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama’s total at that point: $102 million.

Biden’s candidacy ended abruptly after the Iowa caucuses in early January. After he finished his bookkeeping for the failed campaign, his fundraising from donors totaled about $9.9 million. Obama, in his continuing quest for the White House, has raised 39 times that much.

Biden added to his total by transferring money from his Senate account and accepting $2 million in federal matching funds.

Throughout his lengthy political career, Biden -- like Obama -- has drawn heavily from trial lawyers.

The nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics found that the law firm headed by Texas trial attorney Fred Baron has contributed $108,000 to Biden over the years. Baron, who in the ’08 campaign was John Edwards’ national finance committee chairman, was in the.... recently when it was revealed that he paid to help Edwards’ paramour, Rielle Hunter, relocate to Santa Barbara.

Unlike Obama, Biden has never tapped deeply into Hollywood, though long-time Democratic fund-raiser Carmen Warshaw hosted him at her Westside home earlier this month to help raise money for his Senate committee.

In such settings, Biden talks to donors one-on-one, gives a talk and spends extra time answering questions.


In his presidential run, “the problem was not what happened in those rooms. It was how to get people with deep pockets into the rooms,” said Joe Pichirallo, a producer at Eric Gold’s firm, Gold Co., whose upcoming films include ‘The Secret Life of Bees,’ and ‘Lakeview Terrace.’

A former Washington Post reporter, Pichirallo advised Biden during his short-lived candidacy. “He was fighting the perception, how was he going to win? In my world, it is all about the perceived winners. Hollywood just didn’t flock to him.”

A review of Biden’s Hollywood money in the presidential race shows he received $2,300 donations from Fox executive Thomas Rothman, producer Bill Benenson, singer Barry Manilow, and motivational speaker Scott Greenberg, plus $9,200 from Westwood Broadcast chief Norm Pattiz and his wife, Mary Pattiz.

Other notable donations include $9,200 from Las Vegas gambling mogul Steve Wynn and his wife, Elaine Wynn, and $2,300 from billionaire Kirk Kerkorian.

In past years, Biden received $1,000 checks from Sylvester Stallone, Ellen Barkin, and West Wing producer Aaron Sorkin, and $2,000 from West Wing actor Bradley Whitford. Michael J. Fox gave him $2,000 back in 2001. Cher gave him $2,100 in 2006.

He is not a major fund-raiser within the Washington Beltway. He receives relatively little money from political action committees. Obama has shunned such money during his presidential campaign, contending PACs are a part of the Washington establishment.

The Center for Responsive Politics finds he has 1% of the $27 million he has raised since 1990 from such groups, and 2% in his presidential race.

“He has never been the favorite of the inside-Beltway crowd,” said his friend and political advisor, David Wilhelm, a former Democratic National Committee chairman who had been Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign manager. Wilhelm, a superdelegate from Ohio, endorsed Obama shortly before the Ohio primary.

-- Dan Morain

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