Berliner Tageblatt - Biden holds LA fundraiser as Trump courts Michigan

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Biden holds LA fundraiser as Trump courts Michigan
Biden holds LA fundraiser as Trump courts Michigan / Photo: © AFP

Biden holds LA fundraiser as Trump courts Michigan

US President Joe Biden brushed aside jet lag Saturday, flying straight from the G7 in Italy to Los Angeles to a star-studded fundraiser set to bring millions of dollars for his election fight against Donald Trump in November.

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Trump -- making an unprecedented bid to win back the White House while running as a convicted felon -- was also on the campaign trail, boasting in Detroit, Michigan that his own fundraising is "the highest in the history of politics."

Michigan is a must-win state for Biden in November's electoral mathematics.

Aiming to eat into Biden's key electoral support from African Americans there, Trump visited a Black church in Detroit and told hundreds of voters that "crooked Joe Biden has done nothing for you except talk."

Trump then headed to a starkly different venue: a convention of high-profile hard-right Republicans and supporters of his attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

At the Turning Point USA convention, Trump railed against Biden's climate protection package, mocked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a "salesman," and renewed his incendiary rhetoric about what he branded the "Biden migrant invasion," saying he said he will stop it with the biggest deportation operation in American history.

In a characteristically rambling 80-minute speech -– frequently interrupted by loud cheering -- Trump claimed that help for migrants leaves US war veterans "lying in the streets," and veered into everything from extended complaints about modern showers to repeating his lie that his 2020 election loss was "rigged and stolen."

"We have a rigged country. We have rigged elections, we have open borders," he said.

- Glitz -

Biden, meanwhile, is hoping to inject star power and hard cash into his battle.

Hollywood stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts were to join former president Barack Obama for the gala evening that Biden's campaign says has already raised $28 million, a Democratic Party record.

His turn with the stars means Biden skipped a huge international peace conference for Ukraine on Saturday in Switzerland, with Vice President Kamala Harris attending instead.

But Biden's team said the fundraiser was a "show of force with leaders across the entertainment industry sending a clear signal: they are united and enthusiastic about reelecting President Biden and Vice President Harris."

The glitz will mark a change for 81-year-old Biden after a recent run of grueling foreign travel and geopolitics focused on the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

At the Group of Seven rich nations summit in Puglia, Biden helped seal a deal for a $50 billion loan for Ukraine using frozen Russian assets, and signed a 10-year security accord with Zelensky.

The week before he was in Normandy, France, for the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landings.

In Los Angeles, Biden and Obama, under whom he served as vice president, will take part in a conversation moderated by late-night US comic Jimmy Kimmel.

Actors Clooney and Roberts, Jack Black and Justin Bateman will also take part at the event in the city's Peacock Theatre, which will reportedly include a surprise musical guest.

Biden was accompanied on arrival in LA by relatives including daughter Ashley and granddaughters Maisy and Naomi. The show of family support comes at a difficult time for Biden following the conviction this week of his son Hunter on gun charges.

- Fundraising battle -

Biden's switch from geopolitics to US electioneering also marks the start of a more intense phase in his battle with Trump ahead of November's knife-edge election.

Polls show the pair largely neck-and-neck, with many voters turned off by a rematch between the nation's oldest president and a 78-year-old convicted felon.

They have been in a fundraising battle too, with Biden raking in more for months but Trump doing better recently as supporters rally over the guilty verdict in his porn star hush money trial.

The two are also gearing up for the first blockbuster debate of the campaign, in less than two weeks.

Biden is expected to head to the presidential Camp David retreat next week to start preparing for the June 27 showdown.

The Democrat is expected to go on the offensive on issues like abortion and democracy where his campaign thinks Trump is vulnerable.

But he will also be preparing for how to deal with full-frontal personal attacks by the former reality TV show host.

Their last debates, in 2020, were tension-filled affairs, with Biden at one point snapping "will you shut up, man?" as Trump repeatedly talked over him.

For the CNN debate in Atlanta this month microphones will be muted except when it is their turn to speak.

O.Lorenz--BTB