LOS ANGELES (AP) — Joe Biden raked in over $750,000 during a fundraiser attended by Hollywood powerbrokers, a major haul that demonstrates the entertainment industry's lasting affection for the former vice president.
Biden's 2020 Democratic presidential campaign declined to comment on how much was raised Wednesday evening at the home of interior designer Michael S. Smith and his husband, James Costos, a former HBO executive who was President Barack Obama's ambassador to Spain.
But two people with direct knowledge of the event told The Associated Press on Thursday that over $750,000 was collected, and one of the people said checks were still being tabulated. They were not authorized to reveal the fundraising numbers and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The sum raised was first reported by CNBC.
The Wednesday night event was co-hosted by industry titans including media mogul Peter Chernin, DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and talent agency head Chris Silbermann, as well as former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, according to an event invitation. Other sponsors included Sen. Dianne Feinstein's husband, Richard Blum, and several former Obama administration ambassadors.
More than 300 guests noshed on hot dogs, cheeseburgers with organic beef, and french fries in the front yard of Smith and Costos' Brentwood home while a jazz band played. Later, Biden took the stage.
"I promise you if we elect a Democrat this time — whether it's me or someone else — we're going to see this country come together like it hasn't in a long time," Biden said. "Because people are tired, they're sick and tired of what's happening. Let's lift our heads up. Again, not a joke, remember who the hell we are. And let's go take it back."
The event was one of three Biden fundraisers held during a two-day swing through Los Angeles. Earlier Wednesday he was feted at the home of Cynthia Telles and telecommunications executive Joe Waz. And on Thursday, he attended a breakfast at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles, where he joked about the crowded Democratic primary, saying that he always expected tough competition but never anticipated running against "300 people."
The quip came after Tom Girardi, an attorney who is married to "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Erika Jayne, hyped recent polling that shows Biden as a front-runner.
Biden said he expects the race will be a marathon and recalled the advice of an old football coach who said, "Joe, don't read your clips."
"I know all that polling stuff looks good, but it is a marathon and we have a long way to go," he said.
"There's a lot of people who are qualified and decent and running. And I think it's one heck of a field, although I never anticipated there'd be 300 people running," he continued, prompting laughter from the audience.
Although some candidates have criticized Biden, particularly his coziness with megadonors and industry leaders, he said he would "never speak ill" of another Democratic competitor.