An outside group aiming to help Joe Biden‘s presidential candidacy amid attacks from President Donald Trump officially launched Wednesday with a video and announcement of its team, which is comprised of veteran Democratic strategists and former aides to Biden.
“We are committed to fighting back against Trump, his allies, the Russians, and the Republican Party — all of whom are engaged in unprecedented attacks against Vice President Biden in order to deny him the Democratic nomination,” Mark Doyle, chairman of Unite the Country, said.
The minute-long video features Biden’s own words: “We can unite this country. Folks this is the United States of America. Stand up. Take it back. We can in fact do anything we set our mind to. This is the United States of America.”
The board of Unite the Country includes Doyle, a former Biden aide who will serve as chairman; John MacNeil, who worked on Biden’s 2008 campaign and will act as secretary; and Larry Rasky, who was a part of Biden’s 1988 and 2008 presidential campaigns and will act as treasurer. Mark Riddle, executive director of Future Majority, and Michèle Taylor, a former vice chair of the finance committee for the Democratic National Committee, will also serve on the board.
Amanda Loveday, a former aide to Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina; Steve Schale, Florida Director for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign; and Julianna Smoot, deputy campaign manager for Obama’s 2008 campaign, have also come on board to join the Unite the Country team.
The launch comes just days after Biden’s campaign signaled they were open to help from a super PAC, after the campaign swore off such an effort for weeks.
“In this time of crisis in our politics, it is not surprising that those who are dedicated to defeating Donald Trump are organizing in every way permitted by current law to bring an end to his disastrous presidency,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement last week. “Nothing changes unless we defeat Donald Trump.”
It was formed weeks after Biden reported having $8.98 million on hand — a figure far outmatched by rivals like South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
And it also comes as Trump and his allies have poured $10 million into advertising against the former vice president.
Appearing on MSNBC earlier this week, Biden cast the effort as a “grassroots response” to the President’s attacks despite initial pledges from the former vice president to run a campaign without the assistance of a super PAC.
“This is an understandable response from Democrats who desperately don’t want to see (Trump) reelected president,” Biden said. “My guess is we would have done the same thing for any Democrats that are attacked in the primary.”
The move has prompted criticism from several of Biden’s Democratic rivals, including Sanders and Warren.
Asked if the super PAC would pledge not to attack other Democrats in the primary, Schale, a strategist for Unite the Country, said, “We are here to talk about Joe Biden and defend him from the unprecedented attacks from Trump, not to attack other Democrats. We are blessed to have a great field. I just believe Joe Biden is our best choice.”
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect James Clyburn is a US representative of South Carolina.