5 things to know before Trump and Biden touch down in Los Angeles (2024)

Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden are heading to Southern California for big-ticket fundraisers and will be bringing a lot more baggage with them than just a load of suitcases.

In Trump’s case that includes his new classification as a convicted felon, which could result in a particularly angry reception in the Democratic stronghold of Los Angeles. That’s not to say Biden will be warmly welcomed either, after pro-Palestine protests and mass arrests roiled SoCal’s campuses where he is now often referred to as “Genocide Joe.”

Both presidential hopefuls will be seeking to sidestep this negative attention and play up their positive attributes as they pull in campaign cash from wealthy families.

Trump will be kicking off the fundraising efforts with a private campaign reception in Beverly Hills on Friday, June 7, before heading to Newport Beach for an event hosted by virtual reality entrepreneur Palmer Luckey. The following weekend, Biden will headline a star-studded fundraiser at the Peaco*ck Theater in downtown Los Angeles where speakers will include George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Barack Obama.

Here are the five things to know before the pair touch down:

Protests are to be expected for both candidates

Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and First Lady Jill Biden have been consistently confronted by pro-Palestine protests during their recent trips to Los Angeles, and Biden’s upcoming visit is unlikely to pass without some sort of outcry.

Pro-Palestinian sentiment has grown considerably since Biden’s last L.A. stop in February, fueled by outrage over the mass arrest of protesters at USC, UCLA and UC Irvine as well as Israel’s invasion of Rafah. Because the location of Biden’s fundraiser is public knowledge, it is highly likely that protesters will mobilize near the event.

Trump is also likely to confront a crowd or two of angry protesters, especially given the 34 felony counts he was just found guilty of during his hush money trial.

But at the same time, people shouldn’t be surprised if pro-Trump rallies reappear on the streets of Los Angeles, or most likely Beverly Hills, where rallies were routinely held at the intersection of Beverly and Santa Monica boulevards during the 2020 election.

“This verdict could definitely galvanize supporters, who maybe weren’t as enthusiastic but now are very angry,” said Mindy Romero, director of the USC Center for Inclusive Democracy. “He’s certainly spent a lot of time trying to inoculate his supporters on the results of any of these cases, by saying that they’re a witch hunt or a politically motivated attempt to keep him from becoming president.”

Tony Strickland, Huntington Beach City Councilmember and spokesperson for the Trump campaign in Orange County, said that the verdict has reignited the passion of Trump supporters in the OC.

“I think President Trump is stronger today than he was yesterday because people inherently see what it is,” said Strickland. “What the American people see is not equal justice, and people fundamentally don’t like injustice.”

For now, Trump needs the money the most

Between the high cost of his legal battles and the fact that he faced multiple opponents in the Republican primary, Trump is currently more cash-strapped than Biden.

In the first quarter of 2024, the Biden campaign reported bringing in $187 million, almost double the $93 million reported by the Trump campaign.

However, there are signs that the financial tides are turning in Trump’s favor.

His campaign announced a whopping $34.8 million haul following his felony conviction, the greatest amount ever raised by a Republican candidate in a single day. However, this figure will not be verifiable until the campaign files its contribution report to the Federal Elections Commission at the end of the month.

In April, the Trump campaign and Republican National Party reported raising $76.2 million, while Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Party reported raising $51 million. That was the first month Trump outraised Biden on the campaign trail thus far.

Both candidates already have a lot of money behind them and are expected to depart the Southland with their pockets full.

Biden needs public support the most

Although Biden has been leading in the fundraising so far, his performance has been much weaker in the court of public opinion.

His approval ratings are languishing around 38% and a recent Emerson College/The Hill poll showed him trailing Trump in all seven key swing states.

While Biden has little to worry about when it comes to votes in deep Blue California, Los Angeles remains a strategic stop for both candidates on the campaign trail.

“California, as we all know, is not a particularly competitive state in the presidential election,” said Pepperdine political science adjunct professor Joel Fox. “They’re here to collect the money that they will go use to influence voters in other parts of the country.”

The results of this election will hinge on the opinion on the roughly 3% of America’s voters who are undecided, said Romero. This means that every dollar spent on advertising efforts to influence swing voters is a dollar well spent.

Trump’s legal woes are far from over

While the court reached a verdict in Trump’s hush money case, his legal battles and the drain they put on his campaign cash are far from over.

“The verdict is clearly unprecedented, but it’s hard to know exactly what the ramifications will be,” said USC political science professor Jeffrey Alan Jenkins. “Trump is unlikely to serve jail time, but he’s also almost certainly going to appeal and will stretch this out well beyond the November elections.”

Trump is still facing charges in two cases brought in federal courts in South Florida and Washington, D.C. and one prosecution in state court led by Fulton County, Georgia. His sentencing in the New York case is set for July 11.

In South Florida, Trump is charged with 40 felony counts stemming from his alleged mishandling of government records after leaving the White House. In D.C., he faces four felony charges for allegedly trying to subvert the peaceful transfer of power in 2020, and in Fulton County he faces ten counts for efforts to have their 2020 election results overturned.

Biden will be bringing out the stars

When Biden speaks in Los Angeles, he will be surrounded by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Leveraging the fame of celebrities to appeal to voters is a long-time campaign tactic for the Democratic Party and one Biden will be tapping into full force during this election cycle.

At the Peaco*ck Theatre fundraiser he’ll be banking on the appeal of Julia Roberts and George Clooney, who are not only speaking at the event but also lending their names to his campaign’s fundraising emails and social media content. He’ll also be bringing out his former running mate Barack Obama to encourage Angelenos to be extra generous in their donations.

The celebrity strategy has proven results when it comes to fundraising. In March, Obama and former President Bill Clinton headlined a New York fundraiser that raised over $26 million for Biden in a single night.

However, UC Irvine political science professor Matthew Beckmann cautions against over-estimating the influence of celebrity endorsem*nts and campaign cash in swaying the results of elections.

“Political science research shows that presidential elections tend to turn on national conditions — especially the economy,” he said. “Both candidates will be well-known, and millions of dollars here or there will not make a difference, nor will celebrity events and endorsem*nts.”

Editor’s note: This version of the story corrects an error — Trump was found guilty of 34 felony counts.

5 things to know before Trump and Biden touch down in Los Angeles (2024)
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