Former Vice President Joe Biden made a fundraising swing through the Southland Wednesday as a new poll showed he’s falling far behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, in California in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Biden began his fundraising activities with an early afternoon appearance in Manhattan Beach. He later taped an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in Hollywood then spoke at another fundraiser in Bel Air.
The Manhattan Beach event was held at the home of surgeon Dr. Sanjay Khurana and his wife, software engineer Mona Khurana. It was attended by about 150 people.
The evening event in Bel Air at the home of Sean Burton, head of the investment firm Cityview and a member of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners, drew 130 people including actress Alyssa Milano, actor Zach Braff and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis.
In his approximately 25-minute speech, Biden again stressed there is no proof to President Donald Trump’s allegations that he and his son Hunter Biden had conflicts of interest while he served as vice president.
Biden then reflected on the family’s decision-making process before he announced his candidacy and how it was his grandchildren who gave the final blessing for him to run. Biden said that his five grandchildren asked for a family meeting when “they were worried” that he wasn’t going to run.
“They said, `Pop you got to run. You got to run for office,”’ Biden said. “And I was worried because I knew what was going to happen if I ran. And they said, `But we understand Pop’ and then they each gave their own story that they had written out a note as to how mean they knew it was going to be, but why they had to do it,”
Biden is expected to remain in the Los Angeles area until Thursday before traveling to Nevada on Friday. According to Variety, Biden will attend a Thursday luncheon fundraiser at the San Marino home of Amy and Jules Buenabenta.
Biden’s visit comes one day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, announced an impeachment inquiry of Trump. The announcement came amid growing furor over a telephone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine in which Trump brought up Biden — prompting allegations he may have pressured Ukraine’s leader to investigate actions by then-Vice President Biden and his son in 2014-16, and that Trump may have threatened to withhold financial aid unless such an investigation was conducted.
Trump has vehemently denied any wrongdoing in the call, and on Tuesday he ordered the release of an unredacted transcript of the conversation. Trump also made a joint appearance with the Ukraine president Wednesday morning, again insisting there was no nefarious content in their phone call.
Biden has also denied any wrongdoing relating to his discussions with Ukraine officials while his son was serving on the board of a private Ukraine gas company.
The phone call also generated a whistleblower complaint, and congressional Democrats have been pushing — to no avail — to have the Trump Administration turn over a copy of that complaint.
Biden on Tuesday said if Trump stonewalls Congress in its requests for information, the House will have no choice but to move forward with impeachment proceedings.
He did not address the issue during his appearance at the Manhattan Beach fundraiser, sticking instead to his traditional campaign talking points, saying again, “I believe four more years of Donald Trump will change the very nature of who we are as a nation, the very nature of (who) we are and we can’t let that happen.”
When questioned by reporters about the Ukraine situation as he left the event, Biden said only, “The transcripts are very revealing.”
Biden issued a statement earlier Wednesday in response to White House’s release of a summary of the call with Ukraine’s president, saying it makes clear that Trump first withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine and then “implored” the Ukraine president to investigate a political opponent.
“It is a tragedy for this country that our president put personal politics above his sacred oath,” Biden said. “He has put his own political interests over our national security interest, which is bolstering Ukraine against Russian pressure. It is an affront to every single American and the founding values of our country.”
The Trump Victory campaign issued a statement Wednesday responding to Biden’s Southland fundraisers, saying he can “fundraise like it’s business as usual, but Americans demand explanations for the corruption surrounding Biden, his son Hunter, and their dealings with Ukraine.”
“Biden must answer as to why, as vice president, he pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor general who was investigating the company paying Hunter Biden $50,000 per month — and why he lied about it just this year,” according to Trump Victory spokeswoman Samantha Zager. “Americans deserve to see the transcripts of Joe Biden’s calls from his time as vice president.”
Trump on Tuesday blasted Pelosi and the impeachment inquiry, calling it an effort to demean him on the day he spoke to the United Nations General Assembly.
“Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage,” Trump wrote on his Twitter page. “So bad for our country!”
In another tweet, he wrote, “They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!”
Meanwhile, according to the latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, conducted for the Los Angeles Times, Warren has jumped to a significant lead in the Democratic presidential race in California, solidifying her position as a front-runner for the party’s nomination,
The poll released Wednesday showed a clear shift from the last Berkeley IGS poll in June, when there was no clear front-runner. The new poll showed Warren separating herself from the rest of the field and becoming the top choice of 29% of likely Democratic primary voters.
Meanwhile, Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, showed little movement in the poll. The poll found the two essentially tied for second, with Biden at 20% and Sanders at 19%, followed by California Sen. Kamala Harris at 8%.
The poll surveyed 4,527 registered voters statewide, including 2,272 deemed likely to cast ballots in the Democratic primary. It was administered online in English and Spanish from Sept. 13 to 18. The results for the full Democratic sample have an estimated sampling error of roughly 3 percentage points in either direction.
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