Day 2 of President Biden’s LA fundraising sweep rolls on Saturday

Biden attended a shiva at the residence of Lyn and Norman Lear in honor of the pioneering TV producer’s death last week at the age of 101.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden rolled into Day Two of their their Los Angeles-area fundraising blitz on Saturday, Dec. 9, criss-crossing the city for myriad meetings, many of them at private homes in posh neighborhoods.

While most of the president’s stops were thought to be linked to efforts to fuel his campaign coffers, one was a solemn experience: Biden attended a shiva at the residence of Lyn and Norman Lear in honor of the pioneering TV producer’s death last week at the age of 101.

“You know, (Lear’s) cast of characters painted a fuller picture of America, of our hopes and our hardships, our fears, our resilience, and changed the way we look at ourselves,” Biden said Friday at an evening gala. “In explaining his approach to getting the laugh — to get us to laugh and think, Norman Lear said, and I quote, “You stand a better chance if you can get them caring first” — “if you can get them caring first.”

Biden added: “Folks, at our best, we’re a nation that cares.  We care about each other; we care about the nation.  And in — and in three years, we’re going to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Norman brought an original — bought an original copy of that.  And he shared it with schools and museums.”

The president gave a 15-minute speech at an event hosted by investors Jose Feliciano and Kwanza Jones, where he touted items he regards as his administration’s accomplishments, from efforts to combat climate change to funding programs to undo the effects of pollution in poor and minority communities to jump-starting high speed rail.

As he hailed the rate at which Latinos were starting small businesses, a small child in the front rows piped up.

This weekend’s meetings are aimed at helping Biden reach a fundraising target of roughly $67 million for the fourth quarter of the year, according to a source close to the president’s campaign who spoke to the Associated Press but insisted on anonymity to discuss internal numbers.

The first lady also campaigned individually or her husband, appearing at a fundraising event Saturday at NeueHouse Hollywood hosted by Matthew Crowley and Martha Leon De La Barra. She was introduced by actress Connie Britton and spoke for 11 minutes to an audience of about 100 guests, according to a pool report.

“I wish that this election were about simple policy differences. I wish it were about differences of character or merit. But fundamentally, what this election will be about is democracy,” she said.

“We are the party defending it, not the one tearing it at its seams. We are the party that holds sacred the peaceful transfer of power, not the one that assaulted the Capitol on January 6. You and I — we are the party protecting the right of this nation’s people to live freely, not the one praising the oppressive thumb of dictators.”

After the speech, she participated in a discussion moderated by actress Elizabeth Banks.

On Friday, the first lady appeared at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to tour research laboratories as part of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research. She toured the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center and Smidt Heart Institute.

The couple was scheduled to attend at least six different meetings around the L.A. area between the two of them, swooping into events drawing a throng of musicians, movie stars and moguls. 

Meanwhile, police continued to investigate numerous acts of vandalism by some of the more than 1,000 protesters who demonstrated not far from the president’s appearance at a celebrity-studded fundraiser Friday in Holmby Hills.

“At one point an unlawful assembly and dispersal order was issued due to the protesters’ actions including throwing objects at officers and passing vehicles,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said in a statement.

The protesters gathered Friday afternoon to condemn U.S. funding of Israeli military strikes in Gaza with one holding a sign, “No votes for mass murderer.”

At one point, the crowd blocked entry to the president’s fundraiser as cars attempted to enter. Some demonstrators slammed on cars, shouted “Free Palestine,” at drivers, and refused to let up their street blockage.

After about an hour and a half and some tense back and forth between officers and protesters, the demonstrators began marching toward Wilshire Boulevard. Completely blocking traffic on the southbound side of Wilshire, the protesters marched for several blocks. Some people in cars traveling the opposite way shouted their support for the movement; others displayed their opposition with thumbs down and middle fingers.

The demonstration was put on by the Palestinian Youth Movement, an organization comprising Palestinians and Arabs living in the U.S. and Canada, according to its website. Other activist groups, including Code Pink and the Los Angeles chapter of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, also planned to participate in the demonstration.

“We are making sure that Biden hears the voices of Palestinian youth,” said Justice Crudup, a 29-year-old from LA, who works with the Orange County Justice Initiative. “We are seeing so many young voters who will turn 18 next year and who will see what’s transpiring this year…a lot of young people are going to be holding the power.”

Chief Moore said the protest ended without arrests.

“The crowd slowly dispersed and no arrests were made, no use of force, and no officers were injured,” he said.

Someone spray-painted “Free Gaza” on the wall of an apartment building on Wilshire Boulevard across from Sinai Temple. Some of the building’s residents inside threw objects at the crowd. Other Westwood businesses were tagged, Fox11 reported.

“The LAPD is aware of the acts of vandalism that occurred in the Westwood area last night by protestors who marched from an earlier demonstration. The graffiti is being removed today and crime reports have been taken,” the LAPD announced Saturday.

“The LAPD is actively investigating these crimes. While the LAPD fully supports 1st Amendment rights for peaceful demonstrations, we will not tolerate violence or vandalism of any kind.”

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, condemned the vandalism.

“The anti-Semitic acts and vandalism in Westwood are despicable. There is no ‘context’ in which anti-Semitism is acceptable. It is vile, repugnant and abhorrent,” Lieu wrote on X. “I urge law enforcement to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”

Meanwhile, inside the gala, Biden touted his record to the gathering of high-profile supporters and took a few swings at the GOP front-runner, former President Donald Trump.

“You’re the reason,” Biden told the crowd — co-hosted by such folks as former L.A. mayoral candidate and entrepreneur Rick Caruso and former Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco — “that Donald Trump is a former president, or he hates when I say it, a defeated president.”

Rhetoric swapped between the two political foes has grown increasingly bitter in the past few days, with Trump declaring Biden as “the destroyer of American democracy” this week. At Friday’s event, Biden declared: “The greatest threat Trump poses is to our democracy, because if we lost that, we lose everything.”

Earlier in the week, Trump declared Biden “the destroyer of American democracy.” The former president said Tuesday in Iowa: “(Biden has) been weaponizing government against his political opponents like a Third World political tyrant.”

Polls have shown Trump holds an overwhelming lead in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Other polls have shown he has a slight lead over Biden in a potential 2024 general election race.

“I’m the only thing standing between you and Lenny Kravitz,” Biden joked before yielding the stage for a performance by the veteran rocker.

Also attending the gala were filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner, television producer Shonda Rhimes, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass andand Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank.

Former House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi reportedly co-hosted the event along with former L.A. mayoral candidate and entrepreneur developer Rick Caruso.

According to Deadline, tickets ranged from $1,000 to $500,000. Those who contributed $25,000 or more had access to a photo line.

Republican Party officials condemned Biden’s fundraising swing.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Biden launches a Hollywood fundraising blitz to tap into star power with strikes over

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Here’s a Hollywood ending that President Joe Biden wants to bring to life: An incumbent facing tough polling numbers and questions about his advanced age overcomes a brash opponent to win a second term at the White House.

With strikes by writers and actors now over, Biden is beginning to make that pitch to the Southern California set in person. He and first lady Jill Biden were attending six fundraising events and meetings between them this weekend in the Los Angeles area, asking some of the glitziest names in town to open their checkbooks for his reelection campaign.

“This is an incredibly successful night,” the president said at his first fundraiser kicking off the weekend on Friday night, joking that he didn’t want to talk long because he was “the only thing standing between you and Lenny Kravitz.”

Friday night’s event featured a performance by Kravitz was hosted by celebrity designer Michael Smith and his partner, James Costos, and has already pulled in over $8 million, according to a person familiar with the matter, who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal campaign details.

“It’s just a normal Friday at our house,” Costos joked to the crowd of hundreds that filled his backyard to near overflow capacity. He added, “This is not just a Hollywood gathering, it’s more like a national event,” saying that supporters from around the country joined the event.

Biden used the event to lay into Donald Trump, calling him “the first losing president and candidate in history who refused to except the result” of the 2020 race.

“He refused to show up at my inauguration. I can’t say I was disappointed,” Biden said. Then he added, to hoots, ”My guess is he won’t show up at the next inauguration.”

Hundreds of protesters demonstrating against the Biden administration’s support for Israel during its war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip could be heard chanting and blowing whistles down the hill from the fundraiser, but it’s unlikely the president could hear them from the stage.

Some of the events will be public and others private over roughly 36 hours in California. But organizers say Biden should raise more this weekend than in any similar time frame since announcing his campaign in April and could potentially take in more than any presidential candidate has in greater Los Angeles this far out from Election Day.

“The pent-up excitement, enthusiasm is really unprecedented,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, a co-founder of DreamWorks Pictures and longtime Democratic presidential fundraiser in Los Angeles, who is one of the Biden campaign’s national co-chairs. “People are excited. They’re mobilized. And they’ve been waiting months to show their support for him.”

This weekend’s events are aimed at helping Biden reach a fundraising target of roughly $67 million for the fourth quarter of the year, according to a source close to the president’s campaign who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal numbers.

The Friday night fundraiser featured luminaries like Steven Spielberg and Barbra Streisand, director Rob Reiner, recording industry mogul David Geffen and Shonda Rhimes, the showrunner of “Scandal” and executive producer of “Bridgerton.” Rocker Lenny Kravitz performed and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the crowd.

Another fundraising meeting is set for Saturday at Katzenberg’s home.

Biden, who frequently calls himself the “most pro-union” president in U.S. history, stayed away from raising money in Los Angeles during the monthslong writers and actors work stoppages. Now, though, he’s free to court Hollywood — a traditional source of large-dollar donations for Democrats — without political blowback.

Katzenberg said this weekend should kick off more frequent fundraising travel out West by Biden.

Biden has also been collecting cash on the East Coast. He flew to Boston on Tuesday for a trio of gatherings to raise money, including one that featured singer-songwriter James Taylor, and attended a high-dollar event Wednesday at a hotel near the White House.

Biden has another fundraiser scheduled Monday in Philadelphia that’s expected to feature Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro, who has been mentioned as a potential post-2024 presidential candidate. He is also planning an upcoming Maryland reception with Democratic Gov. Wes Moore, 45, a key voice for Biden’s campaign with young voters.

The major push to raise money could quiet some donors who have privately grumbled that the president hasn’t done enough to stock his campaign coffers ahead of a 2024 race that is likely to be hard-fought and close.

Some in the broad coalition of voters that helped Biden defeat Donald Trump in 2020 are wary about Biden’s low approval ratings and there are questions, even among reliable Democrats, about whether the 81-year-old president’s age could be an issue in 2024. Others, though, have watched Trump build a commanding early lead in the Republican presidential primary and are now even more anxious to back Biden, given that a rematch with Trump seems likely.

“Whether the enthusiasm is because of the exceptional accomplishments of President Biden, or because of the extreme alternative of someone who is declaring themselves to be an autocrat, either way, you get to the same place,” Katzenberg said. “Which is, Joe Biden’s your person.”

Costos, a former HBO executive, was President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Spain. His partner, Smith, is a celebrity interior designer who helped redesign the Oval Office during the Obama administration.

Other co-hosts for Friday’s event included Jim Gianopulos, former chairman of Paramount Pictures, and Wendy Schmidt, wife of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, another possible presidential candidate after next year’s election, was also set to attend.

Ticket prices ranged from $1,000 for general admission to $500,000 to attend at “chairman” level.

Also listed as cohosts were Bob Tuttle, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom under Republican President George W. Bush, and his wife, Maria Hummer Tuttle.

Biden has held just one campaign rally so far, addressing a summer event in Philadelphia with large unions who jointly endorsed his reelection. Instead, he’s focused on governing and raising money. The campaign has also coordinated with the Democratic National Committee to help defray advertising costs and build out staffing in key states around the country — trying to keep spending low until the race heats up next year.

The president and the DNC reported raising more than $71 million in the quarter ending Sept. 30. Biden’s joint fundraising agreement with the DNC and state parties allows him to receive a check from a single donor that is in the range of $1 million.

His third-quarter haul exceeded the roughly $70 million that Obama and his affiliated committees raised in the same quarter in 2011, without adjusting for inflation. But it fell short of Trump, who reported raising $125 million with the Republican National Committee during the third quarter when he was seeking reelection in 2019.

The Biden campaign also noted, however, that its third-quarter total outpaced the $45.5 million Trump’s campaign reported taking in during the same period this year, and said that the president had $91 million cash on hand at the end of September, which it said was the highest total by a Democrat at that point in an election cycle.

Click here to read the full article in AP News