Steinhauser: Is the vice president ready for a draft Joe Biden movement?
CONCORD - Will Pierce is ready for Joe Biden, but the vice president may not be ready for Will Pierce.
Pierce is executive director of Draft Biden 2016, a week and a half old organization that hopes to encourage the vice president to run for the Democratic presidential nomination by building grassroots support in the early voting states in the primary and caucus calendar.
In an interview with NH1 News, Pierce said he hopes to mirror the success of Ready for Hillary, the two year old group that's put together a massive list of grassroots supporters across the country for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who's expected to launch a presidential campaign as early as next month.
"Ready for Hillary did a lot of groundwork for the former secretary of state and we're looking to do a lot of similar stuff. Since the Vice President has said publicly he's not going to make an announcement until the summer time, there's a lot of his supporters around the country that want to do a lot of stuff ahead of time. We're going to reach out to them, get them engaged, get them ready. So when or if the Vice President does announce he'll have a grassroots operation on the ground across the country," Pierce said.
Pierce, 26, worked as an advance volunteer for Biden's 2008 White House campaign. He says in the week after Draft Biden 2016 was announced, more than 20,000 people had followed the group on Facebook, Twitter, or had signed up on the organization's website. The group appears to have a modest fundraising goal of bringing in $10-15 thousand by the end of this month, and $5 million by the end of the year.
Pierce says "my personal goal is to get this grassroots organization on its feet and to get everything in order."
After that he plans "some trips to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina to talk to some key people."
Pierce says he's planning events in all three states, which kick off the voting in the battle for the presidential nominations. Specifically in the Granite State, he hopes in the near future to announce a New Hampshire for Biden team that would include some state senators and representatives.
While organizers with Ready for Hillary were always confident that the former secretary of state would make another White House bid, the same can't be said of those hoping for a third presidential run by Biden (he first ran for the Democratic nomination in 1988).
A source close to the vice president told NH1 News that "there is no organized Biden political operation."
And more telling the source added that "the boss is not giving the go ahead for any kind of organization."
Biden has said he'll make a decision regarding a 2016 run this summer. He did raise some eyebrows my taking recent official White House trips to New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina, but so far he's not taken any real steps towards launching a campaign. There is no political structure, and Biden decided against launching a leadership PAC last year to help Democrats running in the 2014 midterm elections. The move was favored by some of his longtime political advisers as a precursor to any possible presidential campaign.
As of now, some Biden supporters in the early voting states that NH1 spoke with (most of them longtime loyal friends) are holding pretty tight, waiting for the vice president to make a decision. But with a Clinton announcement pending, and the campaign clock ticking, holding out may become tougher and tougher.
State Rep. Steve Shurtleff backed Biden in 2008, and was involved in his campaign in New Hampshire.
Shurtleff told NH1 Newsthat "Biden is well respected here. I think he'd do well" if he runs.
But he added that "people are still waiting, but how much longer they'll wait is to be seen. Time is somewhat running out. People are starting to think about committing to others."