Dec 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: White House eyes McAuliffe for potential role

Biden and Terry McAuliffe

Biden with McAuliffe during the latter's campaign for Virginia governor. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House is exploring ways to bring Terry McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia and one of the Democratic Party's most prolific fundraisers, into the Biden administration, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: McAuliffe, a businessman before serving as Democratic National Committee chair in the early 2000s, knows how to raise money and create jobs —two skills that will be crucial to Biden's likely reelection campaign.

  • McAuliffe's PAC, Common Good, raised over $2.7 million for Democratic candidates in the midterms, bringing his total to over $3.5 million since Biden's election.
  • Even though he lost his bid to return to the Virginia governor's mansion in 2021, McAuliffe has two things that Biden deeply respects: campaign know-how with his name atop the ticket, and experience as an elected official.
  • McAuliffe, who was in Qatar this week cheering the U.S. men's soccer team's World Cup victory against Iran, didn't respond to a request for comment.

Driving the news: McAuliffe met with White House chief of staff Ron Klain before the Thanksgiving holiday, but it's unclear if a position is open for him. He's also set to attend Thursday night's state dinner at the White House for French President Emmanuel Macron.

  • White House officials and outside advisers like former COVID czar Jeff Zients have been preparing for a potential broad reshuffling of Biden’s Cabinet and senior staff.
  • While that process continues, some big Cabinet decisions have been put on hold until the Dec. 9 Senate run-off in Georgia, which will determine whether Democrats have a 50- or 51-seat majority.
  • In his first two years, Biden learned that a 50-50 Senate — with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote — couldn't guarantee his nominees would sail through the confirmation process.

Between the lines: Biden may delay any Cabinet reorganization until the late spring or early summer to avoid the appearance that any departures are related to Republicans winning control of the House.

The intrigue: Only a few jobs would appeal to someone with McAuliffe’s experience, like Commerce Secretary or a major ambassadorship.

  • Getting into the Cabinet would require some musical chairs — and at least one departure.
  • For Commerce to be a possibility, the current secretary, Gina Raimondo, would have to decide to move on or take over at Treasury, which would be possible only if Janet Yellen decided to leave.
  • Of the consequential embassies that might be enticing, both Italy and India remain without ambassadors.

Go deeper: McAuliffe, a longtime Biden friend, considered a presidential bid in 2020 but ultimately decided against it and became one of the president's early supporters.

  • He served as the DNC's convention chair in 2000 and then as a co-chair for Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2008.
  • This year Biden appointed McAuliffe's wife, Dorothy McAuliffe, as U.S. Special Representative for Global Partnerships at the State Department.
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