Raising campaign money from Hollywood after a long hiatus during industry strikes, Vice President Kamala Harris sounded confident as she told supporters Monday that President Biden will win the 2024 election.
“It will not be easy,” she said. “There are powerful forces in our country right now that are trying to divide our nation. And it will be incumbent on us to hold it together for the sake of the strength of our nation and our future.”
Harris delivered the remarks at a glitzy fundraiser held at the Los Angeles home of Hollywood philanthropists and lawyers Leslie and Cliff Gilbert-Lurie. The event showed how Democrats are intensifying efforts to attract political donations from Hollywood now that the entertainment industry strikes have ended. It also revealed some of the challenges Democrats confront as the party splinters over the Israel-Hamas war, with protesters staging a small demonstration outside the fundraiser.
Harris and Biden have been largely absent from the political fundraising circuit in Los Angeles this year as Hollywood was hobbled by striking actors and screenwriters pushing for better pay and benefits. The heightened tension between Hollywood workers and studio executives made tapping into donations from the entertainment industry politically fraught. Candidates didn’t want to risk crossing picket lines, and executives didn’t want to be seen cutting big checks to politicians while negotiating with workers.
But with actors reaching a deal to end their strike earlier this month, following the conclusion of the writers’ strike in September, Hollywood is resuming its role as a major source of campaign cash for national Democrats.
Monday’s fundraiser included more than 140 guests and raised close to $500,000, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie told the crowd gathered at her home’s poolside lounge with lights strung around trees in the yard. Inside the modern home adorned with art, people sipped wine and nibbled on crostinis with squash and truffle walnut hummus with pomegranates.
The fundraiser also attracted about two dozen protesters opposed to the Israel-Hamas war who yelled “Free Palestine!” and “Shame on you!” as people entered the home. Before Harris arrived, they threw fake blood in front of the Gilbert-Luries’ house and placed red handprints on the ground. About a dozen police officers stood in front of the home.
Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, who is the first Jewish spouse of a president or vice president, spoke to the group about his work to combat antisemitism and hate.
“You saw it outside walking in here today,” he said, referencing the protesters. “This is the times that we’re living in right now.”
Before Harris delivered her remarks standing between two American flags, a woman in the audience called for a cease-fire. Security led her out of the home.
Harris told the audience to “take a minute” before she continued speaking, noting that Americans have to continue their fight against antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate.
“This is a very critical moment in the history of our country and the history of the world, and so much of what we have each fought for and believed in our entire lives is at stake in this election and in this moment,” she said.
While politicians have avoided fundraising during the Hollywood strikes, Biden’s campaign has been picking up donations in the Bay Area. Throughout this year, Biden has held fundraisers in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, tapping into the region’s tech-industry wealth. Last week, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, Biden and Harris attended a Democratic National Committee fundraiser while hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters opposed to the Israel-Hamas war chanted outside the the Merchants Exchange Building.
In October, Biden’s campaign said it raised more than $71 million in the third quarter, surpassing fundraising by former President Trump and GOP primary candidates.