LOS ANGELES, Dec 8 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden kicked off a star-studded three-day fundraising trip in California on Friday by mocking Republican front-runner Donald Trump for claiming he would be a dictator on his first day in office if he becomes president again.
Trump said on Tuesday that he would not become a dictator if he became US president again, except “on day one”.
“Thank God, just one day,” Biden joked at a Los Angeles fundraiser at the home of Michael Smith, a celebrity interior designer, and his partner James Kostos, a former HBO executive who served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador. Obama in Spain.
Biden called Trump, who lost the 2020 election but tried to overturn the results, a threat to democracy. Trump was indicted in August for large-scale attempts to overturn the election.
Biden’s trip comes a day after the Justice Department filed new criminal charges against Biden’s son, Hunter, accusing him of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes while spending millions of dollars on a lavish lifestyle. The president did not mention his son during his fundraising remarks.
California — and the deep-pocketed entertainment industry — has long served as a major source of funding for Democrats, but long strikes by actors and writers have had a chilling effect on fundraising.
The end of the labor unrest has unlocked the dollars that have accumulated, said Jeffrey Katzenberg, a movie mogul and campaign co-chairman who has emerged as an influential voice in Biden’s effort to win re-election in November 2024.
“It’s going to be the most successful day and a half of campaigning to date and probably one of the most successful days and a half before a general election where things kind of go at a whole ‘different speed’ that we’ve ever had here for any candidate ever Katzenberg said in an interview with Reuters.
Biden was scheduled to attend two fundraisers in Los Angeles, which are expected to include directors Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner and musicians Barbra Streisand and Lenny Kravitz. The swing in California is part of a blitz of at least nine fundraising events that Biden will hold before the end of the month.
The California fundraiser and an earlier round in Boston are expected to raise at least $15 million, according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity. The total withdrawal in the fourth quarter of 2023 is expected to be close to $67 million, the source said, adding that the amount would be similar to that collected by then-President Obama during the same period in 2011.
Katzenberg, who is helping organize one of the fundraisers, said the final number is still being worked out.
“The number is large. I know that,” said Katzenberg, who co-founded DreamWorks Animation.
Biden made a brief stop in Las Vegas on Friday to announce $8.2 billion in funding for 10 new passenger rail projects.
“Trump is just talking to himself. We’re walking the walk,” Biden told a crowd of unionized carpenters. “He likes to say that America is a failing nation. Honestly, he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. I see shovels in the ground, cranes in the sky.
Projects funded by the $1 trillion infrastructure law include $3 billion for the nation’s first high-speed rail line that will run through California, according to a senior administration official.
Biden also announced a $3 billion investment to help create another high-speed rail corridor between Las Vegas and Southern California, along with money for projects in North Carolina, Virginia and Washington.
Biden has spent the past year criss-crossing the country announcing new funding tied to his signature pieces of legislation: the Infrastructure Act, the Chips and Science Act and the De-Inflation Act.
It’s part of an effort to boost his poll ratings and convince voters he’s the right man to lead the U.S. economy, but recent opinion polls show the effort has met with little success.
Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Nandita Bose; Editing by Jamie Freed, Jonathan Oatis and Edmund Claman
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