A longtime confidant of former vice president Joe Biden and the head of one of the city’s most influential communications and lobbying shops has helped launch a super PAC to support Biden’s bid for the White House.
Larry Rasky, a campaign strategist who is chairman and chief executive of Boston-based Rasky Partners, filed paperwork earlier this week to form the group, called Unite the Country. On Wednesday, it launched a website and video.
The super PAC, which is allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on political activity but cannot coordinate with candidates, followed Biden’s change of heart on the issue of receiving assistance from big-money entities.
The campaign last week softened its previous hard-line opposition to accepting help from super PACs, citing the tsunami of attacks on their candidate by President Trump and his allies, which Biden’s campaign characterized as an attempt to meddle in the Democratic primary.
The move also came after the latest round of fund-raising disclosures showed Biden with just $9 million cash on hand, less than half the stockpile of any of the other top-tier Democratic presidential hopefuls.
In an interview with the Globe, Rasky — a top aide to Biden during his two previous White House runs — said he and the other super PAC board members felt the need to help Biden because he’s fighting an unprecedented “dual front war.”
On one front, Trump and his GOP supporters are bombarding Biden with attack ads and misinformation; on the other, Biden is competing with his Democratic rivals.
“President Trump and his allies have accelerated the general election campaign, so much so they’re literally engaging a foreign government to try and attack the vice president,” Rasky said, referring to efforts by Trump to pressure Ukraine’s government to advance his political interests. Trump’s interactions with Ukraine are the subject of an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.
Asked whether the launch of Unite the Country is a sign they’re worried Biden can’t raise enough cash on his own, Rasky said, “The Biden campaign is raising money for a primary challenge; they should be well equipped to take that on.”
But the Trump campaign “is trying to get in the middle of the primary and knock off their most feared and capable opponent. And we’re just not going to let this happen,” said Rasky, who will serve as the super PAC’s treasurer.
The Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, and other GOP forces have spent more than $10 million to attack Biden, according to Unite the Country.
Indeed, Biden is weathering attacks from Trump-aligned super PACs.
Rasky declined to say what the group hopes to raise and spend in Biden’s defense. “We’re going to try and level the playing field as best we can,” he said, but they anticipate that Trump will have “unlimited resources” at his disposal.
Last week, the Biden campaign signaled it would no longer oppose super PAC assistance, given the vast resources Trump and his supporters plan to spend — and already are, training their fire on Biden in hopes of preventing him from winning the Democratic nomination, according to a statement issued by Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager.
“And let’s be clear: Donald Trump has decided that the general election has already begun. He and his allies are already spending massive amount of money on paid television and digital advertising to intervene directly in Democratic primaries with the goal of preventing Joe Biden, the opponent that Trump fears most, from becoming the Democratic nominee,” she said.
Bedingfield said Biden remains committed to removing “private money from our federal elections” but such reforms would be impossible until Trump is out of the White House.
Biden’s reversal drew criticism from his two top Democratic rivals, Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who have disavowed super PAC assistance during the primary.
Without naming Biden, Warren said in a series of tweets that it is “disappointing that any Democratic candidate would reverse course” and welcome super PAC spending. “Every Democratic candidate should agree: Super PACs have no place in our primary.”
Sanders also scorched Biden for the reversal during a rally in Iowa, where Biden is polling second, according to the Real Clear Politics average of Iowa polls. “I don’t need a super PAC,” he said. “I am not going to be controlled by a handful of wealthy people.”
Both candidates out-raised Biden in the last quarter. Sanders bested the 2020 field in the fund-raising quarter that ended Sept. 30, raking in $25.3 million. Warren was close behind, with $24.6 million.
Biden raised $15.7 million but ended with just $9 million on hand.
Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign and the RNC jointly raised $125 million in the same period.