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Biden Tells CA to Stay Focused on Vote 02/21 06:10

   President Joe Biden kicked off a three-day fundraising sprint in California, 
making the case to supporters to stay focused on what's at stake in his 
reelection battle where he will likely again face Donald Trump in November.

   LOS ANGELES (AP) -- President Joe Biden kicked off a three-day fundraising 
sprint in California, making the case to supporters to stay focused on what's 
at stake in his reelection battle where he will likely again face Donald Trump 
in November.

   In remarks at a campaign reception on the grounds of billionaire Haim 
Saban's Los Angeles home, Biden told supporters that a Trump win could lead to 
a nationwide abortion ban, more Republican efforts to undo Obamacare and a 
deteriorating American reputation on the world stage. Biden also addressed 
head-on the concerns among his supporters and detractors alike about his age -- 
a lingering issue that's become a drag on his reelection hopes.

   "I may not run as fast as I used to. I may not be able to play flanker back 
at Delaware," Biden told the audience that included actor Jane Fonda and 
comedian Greg Proops. "But I tell you what ... I've been around long enough to 
know what's going on."

   The president will also make campaign stops in San Francisco and Los Altos 
Hills this week and will deliver a policy speech near Los Angeles on Wednesday, 
in an effort to collect as much cash as he can for his reelection bid.

   Going into the trip, Biden's campaign and the Democratic National Committee 
announced that they had collected $42 million in contributions during January 
from 422,000 donors. Biden ended January with $130 million in cash on hand. 
Campaign officials said that is the highest total amassed by any Democratic 
candidate at this point in the cycle.

   Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez called the haul "an 
indisputable show of strength to start the election year."

   "While Team Biden-Harris continues to build on its fundraising machine, 
Republicans are divided -- either spending money fighting Donald Trump, or 
spending money in support of Donald Trump's extreme and losing agenda," she 

   The figures suggest Biden is cementing an early cash advantage over Trump. 
But the numbers still lag what Trump had amassed during a similar period in 
2020, when his campaign routinely smashed fundraising records.

   Raising money is only part of the equation. How well that cash is spent is 
also a major factor -- as Trump well knows. His 2020 campaign effectively lit 
his massive cash surpluses on fire through a series of questionable spending 

   This year, Trump retains his impressive ability to hoover up campaign cash, 
particularly from grassroots donors who typically chip in small amounts online. 
Trump, who hasn't released his January fundraising numbers yet, also faces a 
new threat to his campaign's finances: the staggering legal bills he racked up 
while defending himself in four separate criminal cases.

   In order to maintain an edge in what's widely expected to be an expensive 
rematch with Trump, Biden's campaign will need to accelerate his fundraising.

   This week's trip marks Biden's third visit to California in just over two 
months for political events. He's trying to make up for lost time after largely 
avoiding the Democratic donor stronghold during last year's strikes by the 
Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA.

   His hosts on Tuesday weren't in attendance; they both tested positive for 
COVID-19. Biden wished them a speedy recovery as he spoke to the crowd.

   "We have to contrast the choice between Trump and me," he said. "We have to 
make it crystal clear."

   Biden also criticized Trump for not speaking more forcefully about last 
week's death of Russian political activist Alexei Navalny. Russian officials 
said that Navalny, Russia's top opposition leader and President Vladimir 
Putin's fiercest foe, died suddenly in prison on Friday. The circumstances 
surrounding Navalny's death have not been fully determined, but Biden has said 
Putin is ultimately responsible.

   Trump in his first comment on his social media site two days after Navalny's 
death was announced appeared to compare his own legal battles to the plight of 
the activist who was serving a 19-year sentence on charges of extremism.

   "When Navalny died last week and the world holds Putin responsible, Trump 
fails to even condemn it," Biden said. "It's outrageous."

   Biden made a quick visit to Los Angeles earlier this month for a meeting 
with supporters in the city's upscale Bel Air neighborhood. He and first lady 
Jill Biden also spent a weekend in December in the Los Angeles area for 
campaign events.

   The first lady traveled Tuesday to Guilford, Connecticut, to hold a campaign 
fundraiser on behalf of her husband.

   While the Bidens will be pursuing deep-pocketed donors this week, the 
campaign points to the number of smaller donations it has raised as an 
encouraging sign for the president.

   The campaign says 97% of the 3 million donations it has received thus far 
were under $200 each. Biden has also received pledges from 158,000 "sustaining 
donors" who have committed to donating monthly. That's more than double the 
amount Biden had at this point in the 2020 cycle, when his cash-strapped 
campaign limped out of Iowa following a fourth-place finish in the state's 
February caucuses.

   The new totals include donations to Biden's political operation and to a 
network of joint fundraising arrangements with the national and state 
Democratic parties. Biden's 2020 campaign raised over $1 billion, and could 
need even more in a likely Trump rematch.

   Biden in recent days has seized on comments by Trump that call into question 
the U.S. commitment to defend NATO allies from attack as "dangerous" and 
"un-American." Trump earlier this month said he once warned that he would allow 
Russia to do whatever it wants to NATO member nations that are "delinquent" in 
devoting 2% of their gross domestic product to defense.

   The Biden campaign launched digital ads last week in three battleground 
states -- Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania -- criticizing Trump for his 
threat to NATO countries. Biden has also railed against House Republicans for 
blocking a $95 billion foreign aid bill that includes $60 billion in funding 
for Ukraine's war with Russia.

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