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Biden, Obama, celebrities expected to raise record amount at downtown LA event

Seema Mehta and Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

LOS ANGELES — President Joe Biden arrived at a star-studded fundraiser Saturday evening in downtown Los Angeles that is expected to raise at least $28 million — the largest cash haul from a one-night event in Democratic history.

Former President Barack Obama, George Clooney and Julia Roberts are among the headliners at the gathering at L.A. Live’s Peacock Theater. Thousands of Biden supporters paid between $250, for a seat far from the stage, and $500,000 — for a ticket package that includes prime seats, photos with both presidents and a VIP after-party — to attend what is likely to be one of the president’s last major L.A. fundraisers before the November election.

“This Saturday, we are going to see an unprecedented and record-setting turnout from the media and entertainment world,” said media mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, a Democratic megadonor and the only nonelected official who is a co-chair of the president’s reelection campaign. “The enthusiasm and commitment for Biden-Harris couldn’t be stronger. We all understand this is the most important election of our lifetime.”

Biden, who arrived at the theater shortly before 5:30 p.m., was expected to take photos with VIPs before the main event, which was scheduled to begin around 6:30 p.m.

Gov. Gavin Newsom; Reps. Ted Lieu, Robert Garcia, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Grace F. Napolitano; Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de León; singer Paul Anka; and Katzenberg were milling around before the fundraiser began.

The event takes place at a critical time for Biden, who is competing with former President Donald Trump for the White House in the general election.

While the Democrat has outpaced the Republican in dollars raised in California and nationally, Trump has seen a burst of donations since being convicted in late May of 34 felonies of falsifying business records about $130,000 in payments to adult film actor Stormy Daniels, who alleges they had sex in Lake Tahoe during a golf tournament, in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The former president’s first fundraising swing after the convictions was in California earlier this month.

 

Both of the presumptive 2024 nominees’ money runs through California take place at a fraught time. National and swing-state polls show a razor’s edge tight race. And voters, some of whom are apathetic about Biden and Trump partly because of their age, are anxious about domestic economic concerns as well as global tumult — the extended wars between Russia and Ukraine and between Israel and Hamas.

On Saturday afternoon, private security guards were blocking access to L.A. Live, allowing pedestrians to enter only to dine at restaurants. Los Angeles Police Department officers were roaming the sidewalks in pairs. Outside, well-dressed attendees of the fundraiser mixed with T-shirted tourists.

About 125 pro-Palestinian protesters gathered around 5 p.m. outside Crypto.com Arena, chanting: “Biden, Biden, you’re a liar. We demand a cease-fire.”

Late Friday night, Biden left a G7 summit — a gathering of leaders of Western nations focused on tackling global issues such as trade, the economy and security — as well as a private meeting with Pope Francis in Italy. After a refueling stop at an Air Force base in Maryland, the president landed in Los Angeles around dawn Saturday.

It’s unknown how Biden spent time after he landed; but his son Hunter, who was convicted of three felony gun charges this week, lives in Malibu. In February, Biden spent about 90 minutes with his son and his grandson at the Ivy restaurant on Hunter Biden’s 54th birthday.

The younger Biden has not yet been sentenced for the gun-charge convictions, which will almost certainly be appealed. He also faces nine federal tax-related charges in California.


©2024 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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