Bidens depart LA for political fundraiser in Las Vegas

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden  concluded a brief weekend visit to Los Angeles Sunday that was aimed at boosting the president's re-election campaign.

The president visited the Beverly Grove area Sunday accompanied by his son Hunter Biden and Hunter's son Beau.

According to a White House press pool report, Biden and his son and grandson exited the Ivy restaurant at 12:10 p.m., when he stopped and chatted with restaurant patrons seated outside but did not respond to a shouted question from the pool.

Earlier, Biden's motorcade stopped at 10:40 a.m. on a street filled with restaurants and shops near Robertson Plaza, according to the pool report.

The president's motorcade rolled on at 12:14 p.m., and Air Force One departed LAX at 12:52 p.m. en route to Las Vegas for another "political event," White House officials said.

Hunter Biden, 54, has been accused by Republicans of peddling influence with his father while the elder Biden was vice president under President Barack Obama. President Biden has denied any knowledge of his son's business dealings with foreign interests. A U.S. House of Representatives committee is holding hearings on the matter as part of an impeachment inquiry.

Hunter Biden has also been indicted on charges of tax evasion, pleading not guilty in a Los Angeles federal courthouse in January, and was indicted by a special counsel in Delaware on three federal firearms-related charges.

Biden and the first lady arrived at LAX at 3:25 p.m. Saturday, and Biden was greeted on the tarmac by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, according to the White House. At 3:40 p.m. Saturday, the president boarded Marine One en route to Santa Monica.

The White House said the president then headed to a campaign meeting in Bel Air, while Jill Biden joined the motorcade for her own event.

According to the media pool reporter, as Biden's motorcade headed north on the San Diego (405) Freeway from Santa Monica Airport toward Bel Air, at least six vehicles with large Palestinian flags were spotted on the southbound side of freeway, which was not closed to traffic. Some passengers were observed hanging out the windows waving the flags as the motorcade drove north.

No further details of the president's plans in the Los Angeles area were released, but Deadline reported that he planned to meet Saturday with Black entertainment industry leaders who are in town for Sunday's Grammy Awards ceremony.

Deadline, citing a source familiar with the plans, said Biden likely discussed issues pertinent to his re-election bid and how the entertainment leaders can help mobilize voters. The meeting was held at an estate owned by director George Lucas, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, the first lady gave a five-minute speech at the Fifteen Percent Pledge Gala at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, emphasizing the importance of supporting Black entrepreneurship and the steps the president has taken in office to advance equity and dismantle racial barriers to accessing capital.

The Fifteen Percent Pledge is a nonprofit organization that asks businesses to commit 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands.

She highlighted the following points:

-- Investing $12 billion in community lenders to expand access to capital for small and minority owned businesses

-- Doubling the amount of government loans given to small Black-owned businesses;

-- Making it easier for businesses in underserved communities to earn federal contracts;

-- Signing an executive order to advance racial equity and support for underserved communities through the federal government.

"There are certain moments in history that stir our souls, wrench our hearts and shake our collective conscience so viscerally, so profoundly, so completely, that they command our attention and demand our action. George Floyd's murder was one of those moments," Jill Biden said.

"These moments of reckoning are not just about the months following a tragedy. The real work of lasting change lies in the moments when history zags, when progress seems to ebb, when the marchers have all gone home and the spotlight has receded, when the backlash has swelled, and opponents are working harder to erase the hard fought gains that we've made. We can't let them prevail.

"President Biden knows that structural barriers and deep disparities have made it so much more difficult for Black entrepreneurs to start businesses to raise capital and to access credit.

"I want you to know that my husband, President Biden, is your partner. He understands that systemic change requires direct action," she said.

The Bidens are scheduled to leave the Los Angeles area well before Sunday night's Grammy ceremony, so they will not be attending the Arena event. Deadline reported, however, that the Biden campaign plans to air an ad during the CBS telecast spotlighting abortion rights.

The Bidens were last in the Southland in early December, spending two days attending fundraising events. The president also attended a shiva at the residence of Lyn and Norman Lear, honoring the legendary television producer who died Dec. 5.

"Anytime President Biden comes to town, he gets an up-close look at the ramifications of failed Democrat policies," California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement released Saturday.

"California continues to struggle under the weight of Bidenflation, brazen crime, failing schools, a fentanyl crisis and rampant homelessness thanks to their party's reckless leadership that starts at the White House and is championed locally by Biden's top surrogate and wannabe replacement, Gavin Newsom. It's no wonder Biden's disapproval rating is at a record high in California. This November, voters will be ready to retire Biden and restore responsible governing to Washington."