At the Holmby Hills home of designer Michael Smith and former ambassador James Costos, Biden spent a substantial part of his 11 minutes of his remarks warning of his likely rival next year as a threat to democracy, a contrast that many of the president’s die-hard supporters believe will help boost turnout and donations as the 2024 campaign gets in full swing.
“Literally, I believe, the future of democracy is at stake,” Biden said, according to a pool report. “The greatest threat Trump poses is to our democracy, because if we lost that, we lose everything.”
A large group of pro-Palestinian protesters was outside the security perimeter near a Holmby Hills Park, and videos posted on social media showed demonstrators attempting to surround cars and chanting as police officers escorted attendees into the event. The demonstrators were heard chanting “ceasefire now” and “free Palestine” and accusing the president of supporting genocide. According to the pool report, the sound of sirens and helicopters could be heard as the program went on.
The president talked of Trump’s behavior on January 6, 2021, when the then-president was watching TV coverage of the attack on the Capitol from a West Wing dining room, as a mob searched for his vice president.
“It’s despicable. It’s simply despicable,” Biden said, then saying, a bit facetiously, “My guess is that he won’t show up at my next inauguration.”
Biden also referred to Trump’s comments earlier this week, in which the former president told Sean Hannity that he would not abuse power in a second term except for the first day of his presidency, when he would close the border and expand drilling.
“The other day [Trump] said, ‘He would be a dictator only one day. That God. Only one day,” Biden said sarcastically.
“He embraces political violence instead of rejecting it,” Biden said.
Earlier, First Lady Jill Biden said that she was “so glad that Joe is our president during these uncertain times,” and she also asked the crowd to recall their feeling after Trump won in 2016, according to Reuters. “We have to begin now,” she said.
Co-hosts of the event included Steven Spielberg, Shonda Rhimes and Rob Reiner, as well as Peter Chernin and Jim Gianopulos. Lenny Kravitz was scheduled to perform.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced Biden, following speakers including First Lady Jill Biden and Costos. Other politicos there included California Governor Gavin Newsom, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass. Bass’s rival in last year’s election, Rick Caruso, was a co-host of the night’s event.
The LAPD and Secret Service had beefed up security in the expectation of protests.
Last month, pro-Palestinian demonstrators protested outside a Los Angeles fundraiser headlined by Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff.
PREVIOUSLY: President Joe Biden arrived at LAX late on Friday afternoon to kickoff a weekend of fundraising, starting with a Hollywood-centric event hosted by designer Michael Smith and James Costos, the former U.S. ambassador to Spain.
Biden and a number of White House staffers then rook Marine One to Santa Monica Airport, and he is motorcading to the event. Among those greeting Biden were California Governor Gavin Newsom, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.
The Los Angeles Police Department sent out an advisory warning motorists “in the West Los Angeles area, including Century City, Pico-Robertson, and Beverly Hills adjacent, can expect intermittent street closures today. Please plan for traffic delays and avoid the area if possible.”
According to videos posted on social media, dozens of pro-Palestinian demonstrators, chanting “ceasefire now,” lined up near a Holmby Hills park, where Los Angeles police officers and the Secret Service had set up a security fence perimeter near the home where the event will take place.
The LAPD had earlier warned of protest activity expected throughout the weekend.
“The Department will continue to work with any protest organizers to facilitate lawful demonstrations while protecting the safety of all involved including surrounding communities. Violence of any kind will not be tolerated,” the LAPD said.
First Lady Jill Biden arrived earlier in Los Angeles, and toured the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center and Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars Sinai.
The California Republican Party, meanwhile, has weighed in with a blast at the presidential visit.
Party chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement, “If President Biden is expecting a warm welcome from the Golden State today, he hasn’t been paying attention to local polls that show his approval at record lows among Californians. It seems even deep-blue California can’t get behind his disastrous agenda of high inflation, open borders, weak foreign policy, failing schools, and rampant crime. No amount of time spent rubbing elbows with Hollywood elites while bragging about the imaginary merits of ‘Bidenomics’ will change the fact that Joe Biden’s presidency is an abject failure.”