A prominent Democratic donor worried about the party's chances of winning the presidency emailed dozens of fans of Vice President Joe Biden on Friday, urging them to remain prepared to donate if Biden jumps into the race.
The donor, Bill Bartmann, cited new polling showing Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont nearly tied with the Hillary Clinton, eroding the 30-point lead the former secretary of state held at the end of last year. Bartmann and other party insiders are concerned that Sanders, a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist, is too far to the left to win against a Republican in the Nov. 8 presidential election.
"We cannot afford to lose the White House," Bartmann wrote in the email, seen by Reuters.
The email drew a string of affirmative responses, also seen by Reuters.
Biden announced in October that he would not seek the presidency, despite support from a group of backers under the name "Draft Biden 2016." But whispers have continued among some donors who hope that Biden could be convinced to run after all should Clinton’s campaign prove fruitless.
"My sitting on the sidelines has a lot to do with my disappointment that the vice president decided not to get in the race," Patrick Baskette, one of the recipients of Bartmann's email, told Reuters. Baskette, a public affairs consultant in Tampa, Florida, was a special assistant to Biden during his time as a senator.
Baskette said he was not opposed to either Clinton or Sanders. "I don't think that they offer the solutions to our nation's future that Joe Biden does," he added.
Clinton only barely squeaked out a win against Sanders in the Iowa caucus this week, adding to fears that she could lose a nomination that once was thought all but inevitable for her. Clinton is widely expected to lose the New Hampshire primary to Sanders on Tuesday.
"Count me in," Gary Hindes, chief executive of the Delaware Bay Company LLC and a former chairman of the Delaware Democratic Party, wrote on the email chain.
"I am hoping that the stars line up right and that Joe becomes the nominee," Hindes said to Reuters. "Sanders is too far to the left," he added, saying Clinton could be vulnerable as well.
"My heart is with Joe," Hindes said.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Leslie Adler)