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Sherry Lansing planned on hosting a fundraiser for presidential hopeful Joe Biden in the living room of the Bel-Air home she shares with filmmaker husband William Friedkin. They thought it would be an intimate affair for approximately 80 or so guests, but then the former vice president picked up his first primary victory in South Carolina over the weekend.
“The calls just kept coming in, over and over. It was like a deluge. Obviously, we didn’t want to turn anyone away so we decided to move this event outside, and …here we are with over 350 people,” Lansing explained — per a pool report from L.A. Times political reporter Seema Mehta — as she addressed the capacity crowd in her backyard Wednesday evening, hours after Biden cleaned up in Super Tuesday primaries. He topped the field of Democratic candidates in 10 states including Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia and Maine, far exceeding Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and his four victories in Vermont, Colorado, Utah and California.
The surge came as good news to Lansing and fundraiser host committee members that included Senator Dianne Feinstein and husband Dick Blum; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and first lady Amy Wakeland; L.A Board of Airport Commissioners president Sean Burton; former Ambassador to Germany John Emerson and wife Kimberly Emerson; Sim and Dr. Debra Farar; Stephanie Graves; Carol Hamilton; Daniel McCarty and Michael Kraut; Sarah & Joe Kiani; Jane and Marc Nathanson; Josh Perttula; Phil Recht and Helenann Hirsch; Glenn Sonnenberg; and Dr. Cynthia Telles and Joe Waz. According to an earlier report in The Hollywood Reporter, ticket prices ranged from $1,000 to $2,800.
But it also meant more calls Lansing and event organizers had to field from prospective supporters. “We literally had to cut it off and tell everyone who called that we had actually reached full capacity,” she explained. Those who gained entrance included a swath of entertainment industry notables like Leonardo DiCaprio, Keegan-Michael Key and Sony’s Tom Rothman along with politicos like former California Gov. Gray Davis and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis.
Biden spoke for approximately 20 minutes, touching on his agenda to reunite the nation, rebuild the damaged reputation of the United States, raise Social Security benefits for those over 85, and rebuild the middle class. He also addressed Tuesday’s victories and the perception coming into the Feb. 29 South Carolina primary that his campaign was all but over.
“Not long ago, the press and pundits declared our campaign dead. Last night, we saw tremendous support … all across the nation. We’re very much alive, and I hope on the way to defeating Donald Trump,” he said of the president. “Folks, you all know as well as I do, this is the most important election you’ve ever voted in. Not because of Joe Biden — and I mean that; I’m not talking about me — it’s because if we find someone who can defeat Trump and reestablish some regular order in this country and some decency and honor, your kids and grandkids will read about this period of our history as a historical aberration. If he’s elected to four more years, I promise you we will see this society change in a fundamental way for at least a generation or two.”
On a lighter note, Biden also referenced the close call he and wife Jill Biden experienced 24 hours earlier during a campaign rally across town in Los Angeles. Animal rights activists from an organization called Direct Action Everywhere rushed the stage with one female protestor coming face to face with Jill who forcibly responded as security swooped in. The moment went viral on Wednesday and Biden joked that he’s “the only candidate running for president whose wife is my Secret Service.”
“Whoa, you don’t screw around with a Philly girl, I’ll tell you what. I thought I heard on the news on the way over that that the committee in charge of Secret Service decided they have to start providing Secret Service for us,” he said of the situation, which raised security questions about his campaign. “I think that’s because they’re afraid Jill’s going to hurt someone. I tell you what man, I married way above my station.”
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