With a pack of (mostly) fresh faces seeking to take over as Democratic National Committee chair, some Democrats hope to bring in a ringer: Joe Biden.
There’s no word on whether the vice president is interested in running for the job — his office declined to comment — and those behind the effort know that it’s a long shot. But they’re making a concerted effort to line up support in the hope that it will convince the vice president to take the helm of a party in crisis.
“The vice president has done a lot for the country and the party. We’re asking him to do just one more thing,” said Stephen Bittel, a Florida-based DNC member and donor who serves as co-chairman of the party’s national finance committee. “There's too much at stake in our country to not try to give it our all.”
Bittel said he and others working on the effort hope to personally appeal to Biden's sense of duty. He said they’ve received nothing but positive responses from DNC members and other Democrats, but all ask the same question: Would Biden actually do it?
"We need to get some indication that the vice president would be willing to serve and the rest would fall into place,” said Bittel. “I think he clears the field."
The idea would be for the DNC chairmanship to be split into two roles, as it was during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Biden would serve as the party’s figurehead, spokesperson, fundraiser and cheerleader, while someone else runs day-to-day operations.
Multiple sources say that Democrats close to Hillary Clinton and the Obama White House are looking for alternatives to Rep. Keith Ellison, the progressive congressman who has emerged as the early front-runner in an election that will not occur until February. Critics say they want a chair who does not also hold another office, following disappointment with former chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose time was limited and interest complicated by her other job as a congresswoman.
But even allies doubt Biden’s desire to run.
“Is there anybody better to head the DNC? No,” said Dick Harpootlian, a former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party who hosted Biden for a fundraiser the week before the election. “If he called me, my advice would be, ‘Take a break — you’ve done more than enough for the country.’”
Biden, who has prided himself on being one of the least wealthy officials in Washington, is said to be considering numerous lucrative private sector options for his post-government life.
“But if he decides to do it,” Harpootlian continued, “I’d say, ‘Joe, I’m with you. I’ll help you raise money, I’ll campaign for you, whatever, I’ll do anything you need.’”
The effort resembles the attempt to draft Biden into the 2016 presidential race, which some supporters are convinced he could have won.
Another fundraiser involved in the effort to recruit Biden, who like others would speak only on condition of anonymity, acknowledged the challenge. “It’s a Herculean task to get him to do it, but he’s the guy who could save us,” the Democrat said.
Christine Pelosi, a neutral DNC member who has not been involved in the Biden effort, said the vice president’s entry “would obviously change everything” in the race.
“Every Democrat in America loves Uncle Joe,” she said.