Joe Biden was in NYC last week, appearing on an inaugural episode of Late Night With Stephen Colbert, where Colbert not-so-subtly asked whether Biden was ready to seek his party’s nomination for 2016. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. Colbert all but offered up the Late Night platform for Joe Biden to outline the focus of his candidacy and beg for money (though, admittedly, the interview was pretty good).
Biden may have been cagey about his potential Presidential campaign on television, but he was far from elusive with former Obama donors, if rumors of some last-minute “schedule additions” are to be believed. The Veep’s trip was a packed 28 hours – enough to talk to Colbert, and appear at rallies with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Governor Andrew Cuomo, and deliver the official remarks at Ground Zero in honor of September 11th –but he reportedly made room to meet with Robert Wolf, CEO of UBS Americas and a big-time Obama bundler in both of Obama’s election cycles.
But fewer than 12 hours after the Colbert interview aired, Biden partook in a meeting that signaled something entirely different. The meeting appeared nowhere on his public schedule. It was held in secret at his hotel in Midtown Manhattan and lasted for more than 90 minutes: a private, one-on-one session with one of the most prominent and powerful fundraising stars in the Democratic firmament—a mega-bundler who happens to be, at least for now, publicly committed to Hillary Clinton.
The bundler in question was Robert Wolf: the former chairman and CEO of UBS Americas, a prodigious buck-raker on behalf of Barack Obama in two successive campaigns, a four-time appointee to economic panels in the Obama administration, and perhaps the only person in the American business community—and certainly the sole Wall Street potentate—with whom Obama during his time in office has developed a deep and genuine friendship.
That’s interesting on both Biden and Clinton’s part. For Biden, it obviously signals that he is, at least, sounding out a potential run, and talking to big time donors who would likely make up his financial foundation. It could also help Biden make inroads into the financial sector, which is heavily in Hillary Clinton’s camp after funding most of her intitial operation.
For Clinton, it’s signals something potentially much worse: that large-scale donors are considering jumping ship. As Bloomberg notes, Wolf switched from Clinton to Obama once already, in 2008, after it was clear to Wolf that he wouldn’t have a seat at Clinton’s table. He could certainly switch again, hollowing out the only advantage Clinton has over the other candidates: money. So far, she’s the only recipient of million dollar donations among the fold, keeping her afloat in the party’s eyes. If major bundlers begin to back Biden, the party will most certainly rethink her inevitable nomination.
As it stands, right now, it’s unlikely Biden jumps in until Clinton’s cliff-diving is less subtle. But he’s definitely putting his ducks in a row.