Biden touches down in LA with star-studded event on itinerary

Biden touches down in LA with star-studded event on itinerary

President Joe Biden arrives in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Biden will attend a star-studded campaign fundraising event in downtown Los Angeles that will also feature former President Barack Obama and celebrity
supporters George Clooney and Julia Roberts. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Air Force One with President Joe Biden arrives in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Biden will attend a star-studded campaign fundraising event in downtown Los Angeles that will also feature former President Barack Obama and celebrity supporters George Clooney and Julia Roberts. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Air Force One with President Joe Biden arrives in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Biden will attend a star-studded campaign fundraising event in downtown Los Angeles that will also feature former President Barack Obama and celebrity supporters George Clooney and Julia Roberts. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

President Joe Biden arrives in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Biden will attend a star-studded campaign fundraising event in downtown Los Angeles that will also feature former President Barack Obama and celebrity
supporters George Clooney and Julia Roberts. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

President Joe Biden arrives in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Biden will attend a star-studded campaign fundraising event in downtown Los Angeles that will also feature former President Barack Obama and celebrity
supporters George Clooney and Julia Roberts. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

President Joe Biden arrives in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Biden will attend a star-studded campaign fundraising event in downtown Los Angeles that will also feature former President Barack Obama and celebrity
supporters George Clooney and Julia Roberts. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

President Joe Biden arrives in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Biden will attend a star-studded campaign fundraising event in downtown Los Angeles that will also feature former President Barack Obama and celebrity
supporters George Clooney and Julia Roberts. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

President Joe Biden arrives in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Biden will attend a star-studded campaign fundraising event in downtown Los Angeles that will also feature former President Barack Obama and celebrity
supporters George Clooney and Julia Roberts. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

President Joe Biden arrives in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Biden will attend a star-studded campaign fundraising event in downtown Los Angeles that will also feature former President Barack Obama and celebrity
supporters George Clooney and Julia Roberts. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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President Joe Biden arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday morning, touching down at LAX as the sun rose, later to be surrounded by stars.

Wearing a black baseball cap bearing the presidential seal, sneakers and a dark blazer with no tie, Biden hustled down Air Force One’s ramp and into his motorcade as dawn broke.

With former President Barack Obama rolling in to help buoy the glitzy fund-raiser, Biden was scheduled to share a Downtown L.A. stage with Jimmy Kimmel, George Clooney and Julia Roberts, a Hollywood-style event aiming to reel millions for the president’s re-election campaign.

Biden soared into the Southland from the G7 meetings in Italy.

Pope Francis was at the summit Friday, and Biden met with him privately. A White House readout of their conversation did not reference abortion rights, which was a key point of contention at the talks. At the start of an earlier G7 session on artificial intelligence, the two men greeted each other warmly, the pope smiling as Biden bent down to speak quietly to him, their foreheads touching.

Francis was invited by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the summit’s host, to speak at the special session. The pontiff said elected officials must assure that AI remains human-focused, so decisions about when to use weapons are made by people and not computers.

Late-night talk-show host Kimmel is expected to emcee the gathering at the Peacock Theater at L.A. Live, moderating a conversation between Biden and Obama.

Streets and parking areas around the L.A. Live entertainment complex were expected to be closed off at times, and traffic tie-ups were anticipated. Some freeway closures were also expected as motorcades made their way through the area. It was not announced where Biden, First Lady Jill Biden and Obama planned to stay in L.A.

The fund-raising event is expected to be similar to an evening the Biden campaign staged in March in New York City that featured talk-show host Stephen Colbert moderating a talk between Biden, Obama and former President Bill Clinton. It raised $25 million for Biden’s campaign.

Media reports say tickets for the exclusive L.A. gathering began at $250, ranging as high as $500,000 for front-of-house seating, photo ops and an after-party.

Among the organizers of the event is 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 a statement. “The enthusiasm and commitment for Biden-Harris couldn’t be stronger. We all understand this is the most important election of our lifetime.”

The fundraiser could be the last major event for Biden in the Southland ahead of the November election, making it a critical moment for an incumbent dogged by continuing consumer complaints about inflation, the cost of groceries and gas, and rising division over the U.S. stance in the Israel-Hamas war.

The California Republican Party blasted the big-money bash.

“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.

Trump and the Republican Party outraised Biden in April, raking in $76 million as compared to $51 million for Biden and the Democratic National Committee that same month. Biden said he had a $192 million war chest at the end of April, the same as previous months, meaning he appears to be spending it as fast as it comes in.

For example, Biden on June 13 launched a seven-figure ad in Spanish and English in battleground states on “lowering costs for food and rent,” raising wages and creating jobs, the campaign reported. Campaign ads are rarely aired in California.

Kimmel’s interview topics are reported to include healthcare, jobs, the economy and threats to our country’s democracy.

The comic, who sharpened his skills on rowdy local radio and bawdy cable-TV fare, has built a high-octane resume that includes a hit late-night show on network TV, hosting the Academy Awards and even lending his name to a college football bowl game. He’s also become a go-to guy for the Democrats during a particularly bitter election year.

Biden is no stranger to Kimmel’s late-night desk.

On June 8, 2022, he interviewed President Biden on the show not long after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed. The two discussed gun background checks. More recently, Vice President Kamala Harris was a guest.

Kimmel, meanwhile has gotten under the skin of Biden’s likely foe in November, former President Donald Trump.

Their very public feud included a social media spat during this year’s Oscars. On live TV, Kimmel read aloud Trump’s scathing review of his performance as host, then quipped: “Isn’t it past your jail time?”

This Saturday event will take place after Trump has been convicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in an effort to conceal a hush-money payment to a porn star with whom he allegedly had sex. Prosecutors said it was a cover-up to prevent voters in 2016 from learning about the extra-marital affair.

It also comes just a few days after the president’s son, Hunter Biden, was convicted of three felony firearm charges involving lying on a mandatory gun purchase form by saying he was not illegally using or addicted to drugs, and illegally having the gun for 11 days.

Event organizers sold tickets by donations via Eventbrite, at a not-yet-disclosed venue. Last week, it was reported Biden would attend a fundraiser at the Peacock Theater in LA Live! The invitation said the campaign will accept tickets selling from $0 to $500,000.

Trump was in the Southland for a fundraising swing of his own last week. 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 opp 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.

Biden also made a brief stop in Los Angeles on Feb. 3-4, meeting with entertainment industry leaders to lobby for support for his campaign. The Times reported the meeting was held at a home owned by George Lucas.

In December, Biden was in the area for two days of fundraising events and campaign meetings, including a fundraiser at the home of investors Jose Feliciano and Kwanza Jones. He also attended a star-studded affair in Holmby Hills that included Steven Spielberg, Rob Reiner, Shonda Rhimes, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Mayor Karen Bass and her former opponent, developer Rick Caruso, and a performance by Lenny Kravitz.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report 

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