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Biden goes straight from G7 to Hollywood fundraiser

Messenger Online

Published: 15:02, 15 June 2024

Biden goes straight from G7 to Hollywood fundraiser

Photo : Collected

Flying through the night across nine time zones, from southern Italy to Southern California, President Joe Biden will shift focus from Russia's challenge of Western unity to raking in big bucks for his reelection campaign at a Hollywood fundraiser featuring George Clooney and Julia Roberts.

Biden went straight from the Group of Seven summit of wealthy democracies, where Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine took center stage, to Los Angeles and the glitzy gathering unfolding Saturday (15 June) night at the Peacock Theater. The journey was only broken up by a layover to refuel outside Washington.

Former President Barack Obama is joining the megastar headliners Clooney and Roberts, and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel will interview all of them onstage. In a text message to donors beforehand, Roberts called it “a crucial time in the election.” Kimmel wrote in his text that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump “will hate this, so let’s do it.”

Top luminaries from the entertainment world have increasingly lined up to help Biden's campaign, hoping to provide a fundraising jolt and to energize would-be supporters to turn out ahead of Election Day against Trump.

But hobnobbing with the megastars this time means Biden is skipping a summit in Switzerland about ways to end Russia’s war in Ukraine. It's a stark reminder that his responsibilities as president and his reelection effort can sometimes conflict.

“We are going to see an unprecedented and record-setting turnout from the media and entertainment world,” Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood mogul, major Democratic donor and co-chair of Biden’s campaign, said in a statement.

A Biden fundraiser in March at Radio City Music Hall, on the other side of the country in Manhattan, featured late-night host Stephen Colbert interviewing the president, Obama and former President Bill Clinton. It raised a then-record-setting $26 million. The Biden campaign says it is still counting receipts ahead of Saturday's event and likely won't release an expected total until closer to when it starts.

Trump has hauled in even bigger numbers.

He outpaced Biden's New York event in April, raking in $50.5 million at a gathering of major donors at the Florida home of billionaire investor John Paulson. The former president’s campaign and the Republican National Committee announced they had raised a whopping $141 million in May, padded by tens of millions of dollars in contributions that flowed in after Trump's guilty verdict in his criminal hush money trial.

That post-conviction bump came after Trump and the Republican Party announced collecting $76 million in April, far exceeding Biden and the Democrats’ $51 million for the month and narrowing a fundraising advantage Biden built earlier in the race.

The money race aside, Biden missing the Ukraine summit means Vice President Kamala Harris is being deployed for her own whirlwind trip — leaving Washington for Switzerland and dashing back in a little more than 24 hours.

At a joint appearance with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the G7 summit, Biden said Harris would be a strong representative of the U.S. in Switzerland. But Zelenskyy previously suggested that Biden’s not attending was “not a strong decision.”

“I would want President Biden to be personally present,” he said late last month, predicting that Putin would “stand and applaud” Biden not coming. Putin and Russian representatives also aren't going to the summit.

In another sign of his day job colliding with his political aims, Biden's fundraiser was expected to attract protests from pro-Palestinian activists angry about his administration's handling of Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza.

Such demonstrations have become common wherever Biden goes in recent months, including outside his Radio City Music Hall fundraiser.