First Lady Jill Biden raises money for President Biden's reelection campaign in Hollywood

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 16, 2022 - - First Lady Jill Biden enjoys a light moment while visiting Homegirl Cafe to mark what Biden's office says is Homeboy Industries, "on-the-job training and wraparound services, empowering individuals to enter the workforce within its rehabilitation and re-entry program," in Los Angeles on September 16, 2022. The First Lady met with employees in the Homeboy Bakery and spoke with some who benefited from the work force development program and college pathways program provided by Homeboy Industries. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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First Lady Jill Biden touted her husband's accomplishments on job creation, gun-control legislation and infrastructure investment as she courted donors on Wednesday in her first California fundraising trip since President Biden announced he would seek reelection.

“Optimism, that’s what drives my husband and nothing can slow him down,” she told about 80 people gathered under an overcast sky in the backyard of a Lake Hollywood mansion. “Joe is ready, as he likes to say, to finish the job. So as we get ready to jump back into a campaign, I cannot even believe I’m already saying this — think about how far we’ve come in the last three years.”

She pointed to the administration’s efforts on the pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the debt-ceiling crisis as examples of “Joe’s steady leadership.”

“When things look darkest and when my heart feels the sting of headlines in the news, I know that it’s Joe’s clear vision that I want steering us forward,” Biden said.

Read more: Biden announces bid for a second term in 2024

Democratic officials did not respond when asked how much donors contributed to attend the afternoon fundraiser held at a white modern farmhouse with the iconic Hollywood sign perched on a nearby hilltop. The five-bedroom home is owned by attorneys Lisa and Andrew Gilford.

The event raised money for the Biden Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee that includes Biden's campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties and can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars per donor.

The fundraiser took place days after former President Trump was indicted on 37 charges related to his handling of classified documents, and one day after his appearance in a federal court in Miami.

Read more: Trump pleads not guilty to 37 felony counts in federal classified documents case

Jill Biden, who spoke for 11 minutes, did not directly mention the criminal case or Trump by name. But both clearly loomed in the background as she compared the Biden administration with what occurred before he took office in 2021.

Her husband’s leadership had led to the creation of 13 million jobs, a manufacturing boom, the bipartisan infrastructure law, lower drug prices and the passage of the first major gun-control legislation in decades, she said.

“We’ve accomplished so much and I hope you’re proud of Joe, because his wins are really your wins,” she said. “We know what’s in store if these MAGA Republicans win because we’ve all lived through this.”

Biden reminded the audience of Trump shaping policy in late-night tweets and spoke of democracy and freedom being under constant assault. The difference between her husband winning a second term or a Republican taking the White House is stark, she said.

“That's the choice right now — chaos and corruption, hatred and division — on the one hand. You can choose that, or you can choose strong, steady leadership,” Jill Biden said. “We cannot go back to those dark days and we won’t with your help.”

On Tuesday, Biden headlined two fundraisers for her husband’s reelection campaign and spoke at an event for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in the San Francisco Bay Area. The center is led by former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was nearly killed in a 2011 assassination attempt and appeared alongside the First Lady.

Read more: Tucson shooting survivor tormented by loss

Biden, a professor, said at the Giffords' event that fears of a mass shooting at the community college where she teaches regularly cross her mind.

"As a teacher, I have imagined that scene in my classroom more times than I can count," Biden said. "At the start of each semester, I explain to my students what they should do if the worst happens."

Biden touted her husband's efforts to quell gun violence, including background checks and efforts aimed at stopping domestic abusers from obtaining guns.

"He's done everything in his power, and these changes will save lives," Biden said. "But it's not enough. We know that. Joe knows that. We need Republicans in Congress to get out of the way."

President Biden is headed to the Bay Area next week. While his schedule has not been publicly announced, it is almost certain to include meetings with donors.

These are the first California fundraisers for Biden’s reelection bid. In 2020, the state’s residents spent $305.6 million to back his campaign, more than one-fifth of his total haul and the most of any state in the nation, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics of donations of more than $200 from individuals. And that sum doesn’t include contributions to political action committees that operate independently of campaigns.

But despite California’s liberal political tilt, it’s also a top source of Republican campaign dollars. This week and next, former conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are among the presidential hopefuls holding fundraisers in the state.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.