Biden's record-breaking fundraiser draws Obama, Hollywood stars

Biden’s record-breaking fundraiser features Obama, Hollywood stars

The event had already raised over $28 million and counting – making it the biggest fundraiser in Democratic Party history
/ 10:43 PM June 16, 2024

Julia Roberts

FILE PHOTO: Celebrities including Roberts are increasingly lending their star power to President Joe Biden, hoping to energize fans to vote for him in November 2024 or entice donors to open their checkbooks for his reelection campaign. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

LOS ANGELES – President Joe Biden left Los Angeles Sunday, ending a nearly 33-hour visit where he joined former President Barack Obama at a record-setting, star-studded campaign fundraiser.

Biden’s motorcade arrived at Santa Monica Airport at 1:45 p.m. Sunday, and Biden and first lady Jill Biden boarded Marine One for LAX, arriving there at 2 p.m. The president and other family members including daughter Ashley, granddaughters Maisy and Naomi and Naomi’s husband Peter Neal boarded Air Force One and departed Los Angeles en route to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, according to a White House press pool report.

Biden and Obama participated in an approximately 35-minute conversation at the Peacock Theater on Saturday night, moderated by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, where all three criticized former President Donald Trump.

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Kimmel asked Biden about Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and Biden replied, “I could have done nothing and done better than him,” then touted the strength of the nation’s economy, the low unemployment rate and other accomplishments.

“We’re trying to give ordinary people a chance, just a chance.”

Obama then reached out to “those who are conservatively predisposed” who don’t agree with him or Biden but believed in “basic honesty.”


“There are certain standards and values we should stand for,” Obama said.

Jill Biden spoke earlier, following an introduction by entertainer Barbra Streisand.

Joe Biden

President Joe Biden arrives on Air Force One, Sunday, June 16, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Biden is returning from a fundraiser in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“She’s the neighbor everyone wishes they [had], not the type that suddenly flies an American flag upside down,” Streisand said, referring to what happened in January 2021 outside of Justice Samuel Alito Jr.’s Virginia home.


Alito’s wife Martha-Ann told a Washington Post reporter it was “an international signal of distress” and had been raised in response to a neighborhood dispute.

In the weeks before and after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, flying a flag upside down had also been adopted by supporters of the “Stop the Steal” movement, which embraced Trump’s claims that Biden stole the election from him. Some of the rioters who participated in the attack had carried upside-down American flags with them.

Jill Biden talked about punching a neighborhood bully who had “tormented” her younger sister when she was a teen.

“My 13-year-old self was right about one thing: When bullies threaten our loved ones we don’t just stand by,” she said. People at Saturday’s event were showing Trump how they deal with bullies, she added.

“We don’t cower, we don’t turn way. We show up. We speak up,” Jill Biden said.

She compared President Joe Biden with Trump.

“Joe, a man who has dedicated his life to serving his community, who honors the rule of law instead of trying to bend it to his own will, and rallies the world to fight for democracy and freedom; a president who wakes up every morning thinking about how he can make the lives of Americans better,” she said.

“Or, we can choose someone who wakes up every morning caring about one person and one person only — himself. Trump has told us again and again why he wants the White House: to give himself absolute power, to not be held accountable for his criminal actions, to destroy the democratic safeguards that stand in his way.”

Jill Biden warned supporters to show up and speak up now and through Election Day.

“We can’t wake up on November 6 thinking if only we made more calls or knocked on more doors or donated more money,” she said. “We have to work harder than we’ve ever worked before. And when we do, we’ll wake up on that Wednesday in November proud that we did everything we could to re-elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

There was no immediate reply to emails sent Sunday morning to the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee seeking a response to what was said at the fundraiser.

Trump spent Saturday night in Detroit, Michigan, where he gave a speech to the group Turning Point Action and challenged Biden to take a cognitive test, as Trump did when he was in the White House.

“He doesn’t even know what the word `inflation’ means. I think he should take a cognitive test like I did,” the former president said.

Actors George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack Black, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Jason Bateman and Kathryn Hahn also took the stage during Biden’s fundraising reception.

The Biden campaign said Saturday morning that the event had already raised over $28 million and counting – making it the biggest fundraiser in Democratic Party history. The previous record was $26 million at a similar event in New York City in March that featured a discussion with Biden, Obama and former President Bill Clinton moderated by late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert, The New York Times reported.

According to various reports, tickets for Saturday’s exclusive gathering began at $250, ranging as high as $500,000 for front-of-house seating, photo opportunities and an after-party.

Among the organizers of the event was entertainment mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, a co-chair of the Biden 2024 campaign.

“This Saturday, we are going to see an unprecedented and record-setting turnout from the media and entertainment world,” Katzenberg said in remarks reported by the Los Angeles Times. “The enthusiasm and commitment for Biden-Harris couldn’t be stronger. We all understand this is the most important election of our lifetime.”

Elected officials in attendance Saturday included Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, and Reps. Nanette Barragán, D-San Pedro; Tony Cárdenas, D-Pacoima, Robert Garcia, D-Long Beach, Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, Grace Napolitano, D-Norwalk, and Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles and Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León, whom Biden urged to resign in October 2022 after he was heard on a leaked audio with other council members that featured racist and derogatory remarks.

The crowd also included Biden’s son Hunter, who was found guilty last week in Delaware of lying on a federal firearms application.

A few hundred pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside Arena and the adjacent JW Marriott hotel. They waved Palestinian flags and chanted, “Biden, Biden can’t you see, Palestine will be free,” and other slogans.

The California Republican Party, meanwhile, blasted the high-dollar fundraising event.

“Nothing says to struggling Americans, `I understand what you’re going through and am ready to help,’ like spending a night schmoozing with the ultra-relatable George Clooney, Julia Roberts and other Hollywood celebrities,” Jessica Millan Patterson, the California Republican Party chairwoman, said in a statement issued before the fundraiser.

“What you likely will see at President Biden’s glitzy L.A. bash: anti-Israel protests dividing their party, excuses for why issues like inflation and illegal immigration aren’t as bad as Californians know they are, and a bevy of out-of-touch Hollywood elites who are fearful that their standard bearer isn’t up to the job.

“What you likely won’t see: targeted Democrat House members and candidates who don’t want to be caught anywhere near an incredibly unpopular Biden,” she said. “The typical Democrat Hollywood cash grab won’t be enough to save Biden from voters retiring him in November.”

Trump was in the Southland for a fundraising swing of his own June 7-8. He spoke at a Newport Beach fundraiser, with tickets ranging from $3,300 for a lunch reception to $100,000 to be designated as a member of the host committee. The cost for a photo op with Trump started at $35,000.

Trump also attended a fundraiser in Beverly Hills, with tickets ranging from $5,000 to $250,000.

Biden was last in the Los Angeles area in late February, when he attended a fundraiser at the home of Israeli American media mogul Haim Saban in the gated Beverly Park community, near Mulholland Drive.

Tickets for that event ranged from $3,300 to $250,000, with those donating at least $25,000 getting to take a picture with Biden, according to the entertainment news website Deadline. (CNS)

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