As Michael Bloomberg announces he isn’t running for president in 2020, Joe Biden is moving ever closer to another presidential run, alerting his network of Wall Street supporters that he is all but certain to announce his candidacy in the next month, the FOX Business Network has learned.
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Bloomberg’s decision not to run is a sign that the former New York City mayor and billionaire businessman is ceding the moderate wing of the Democratic Party to Biden, the former vice president and long-time U.S. senator from Delaware, people with direct knowledge of the matter tell FOX Business. Though Biden has side-stepped the question of 2020 intentions publicly, several Wall Street executives who are close to him say in private he has indicated that barring some last-minute change, he is planning to announce his 2020 presidential intentions soon.
Biden is indicating to Democratic Party insiders he will make some announcement by April, these people say.
"He keeps telling people that he's almost certain he will run," said one veteran Democratic Party insider who deals directly with people inside the Biden camp. "Nothing is ever 100 percent until you announce, but this is about as close as you get."
Biden, of course, has weighed running for president many times during his political career and ran twice, both times unsuccessfully, in 1988 and in 2008 before he was selected as Barack Obama's vice president as a way to woo working-class white voters to a Democratic ticket headed by the first African-American elected president. If elected, 76-year-old Biden would be the oldest president in U.S. history, second only behind the current president, Donald Trump, who is turning 73 in June.
Though age is seen as a drawback and is a major consideration for Biden as he weighs his next move, people close to him say he's in excellent physical shape. What's more, he believes he's maybe in the best position within the long list of Democratic contenders to replicate the diverse Obama successful voting coalition, including union members that Biden has cultivated over the years but defected to Trump in 2016.
Bill Russo, a spokesman for Biden, said the former vice president “has not yet come to a decision.”
While Biden is known for his ties to middle-class America, he's also no stranger to corporate America. He was the U.S. senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009 -- a state that companies flock to because of its business-friendly laws. Meanwhile, Biden has also cultivated close personal relationships with Wall Street's significant network of Democratic donors such as Jim Chanos, a hedge fund star, and Robert Wolf, the former CEO of UBS Americas, who was both a prolific Obama fundraiser and regular golfing buddy of the former president.
“Biden represents a process Wall Street knows how to manage,” according to Dan Backer, a campaign finance expert. Backer believes the only way Democrats in the business community will get involved in the election is if a moderate like Biden jumps into the race. As the Democratic Party moves left, Biden is perhaps the lone candidate that moderates in Corporate America believe they can work with.
Wall Street executives who have spoken recently with Biden say any announcement is likely to come within the next month because Biden himself believes he has nothing to gain from making a quick decision, thanks to his high name recognition and ability to tap these well-heeled donors.
Meanwhile, those who have announced they are running are now going through significant public scrutiny of past statements, weakening them for the nominating process, Biden believes.
If he runs, Biden, himself, will also be open to the same scrutiny, including a record of verbal flubs and support of other issues that may not endear himself to the left-wing base of the Democratic Party that has grown in prominence. Despite a left-of-center record as a politician, Biden has been known to work well with Republicans, and even recently called Vice President Mike Pence a “decent guy.”
That prompted criticism from some party officials because of Pence’s positions that are seen by many on the left as hostile to LGBT issues, and Biden was then forced to backtrack.
Still, Biden is said to have deep regrets he didn't run against Trump in 2016, and has over the past two years publicly lamented that he ceded the nomination to Hillary Clinton, someone he considers to be an inferior candidate to himself. With Bloomberg now out of contention and vowing to use his massive wealth (estimated at $56 billion) to defeat Trump, Biden is ever closer to announcing, Wall Street executive say.
Biden's active consideration to run once again for president can be traced to around June 2017, insiders say, when he was hobnobbing with financial titans at SALT, the widely attended investment conference held by Anthony Scaramucci’s investment firm SkyBridge Capital in Las Vegas. Biden has previously said that he didn't run for president in 2016 because of the death of his son Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015. But in a speech during the conference, Biden said of the 2016 Democratic nominee that "I never thought she was a great candidate. I thought I was a great candidate."
With that, speculation began to spread among the Democratic financiers there and across the country that Biden believed he would have beaten Trump, and may return to battle in 2020.
After the speech, as reported exclusively by FOX Business, Biden demonstrated that he still hasn't lost his will to fight when, at a private dinner, he got into a verbal spat with activist investor Bill Ackman of Pershing Square, famous for battling (unsuccessfully) corporations, including Herbalife and Valeant. The back-and-forth stunned A-Listers and ended with Biden calling Ackman an a--hole.
A spokesman for Ackman at the time disputed “the idea that there was an argument or altercation between Joe Biden and Bill Ackman.” The spokesman added: “Bill had a great time at the dinner and enjoyed spending time with the former vice president.” But Biden later confirmed the spat in a revealing Vanity Fair profile about his still-smoldering presidential ambitions.
For the next two years, Biden openly discussed running for president with potential contributors, many of them on Wall Street, who will form the base of his fundraising team. Being a centrist may hurt Biden with the leftist base of the party, animated by the likes of socialist New York City congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sander, particularly during the primaries.
But Biden's calculus is that the crowded Democratic field dominated by far-left liberals such as Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and California Sen. Kamala Harris will divide up the party base, leaving him with an opening. If he runs nationally as a moderate liberal, Biden believes he can peel off parts of the 2016 Trump coalition: Both working-class white voters and suburban women who have grown tired of Trump's coarse rhetoric.
He will also have the money to mount an aggressive campaign against Trump. In addition to the Wall Street support, banks and credit card companies have a significant presence in his native Delaware. Campaign records show he has tapped these sources for campaign funds in the past and people close to him say he will do so in 2020 if he does run.