Joe Biden in San Diego in 2016
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Port of San Diego in 2016. Photo by Chris Stone

Former Vice President Joe Biden returned to California Thursday to raise money for his Democratic presidential bid, while making a stop at a Los Angeles soul food restaurant to meet with residents and religious leaders, and taking aim at President Donald Trump.

Biden strapped on an apron and helped served food to patrons at Dulan’s on Crenshaw, then took a microphone and addressed the group, stressing that he is running for president “to restore the soul of this country.”

He quickly targeted Trump and his recent comments about four Democratic congresswomen, whom the president said on Twitter should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.” That sentiment was echoed at Trump’s Wednesday night rally in North Carolina, where the crowd broke into a chant of “send her back,” aimed at one of the congresswomen, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota.

“Did you see or hear Trump’s rally last night?” Biden asked the crowd at Dulan’s. “It was despicable. To stand and attack those four women in the way he did, talking about them going back home. The racist, basic taunts. “And then when the crowd started yelling, ‘Send them back, send them back, send them back,’ when has that ever happened other than the last time you remember the name George Wallace,” Biden said, referencing the segregationist candidate of the 1960s. “No, I’m serious. When has anything like that happened — the president of the United States saying or doing something like that?”

Trump on Thursday tried to distance himself from the North Carolina chants, telling reporters, “I was not happy with it. I disagree with it. But again, I didn’t say that. They did. But I disagree with it.”

“It was quite a chant, and I felt a little bit badly about it,” Trump said.

Biden attended a fundraiser Thursday afternoon at the Brentwood home of developer Thomas Safran, with tickets ranging from $200 to $2,800. He reiterated his comments from earlier in the day and accused Trump of working to divide the country.

“There’s always in every society an underbelly that has racist and xenophobic tendencies, thank God it’s a minority,” Biden said. “From the day Trump ran he’s been trying to appeal to that underbelly. Because like most charlatans in the 19th and 20th century, the way you bring down a system is you divide it and make sure you divide it first. That’s what this has been all about.”

Biden is expected to attend a Thursday night fundraiser hosted by Sony Motion Picture Group Chairman Tom Rothman and his wife, Jessica Harper. Co- hosts of the event are expected to include media moguls Jeffrey Katzenberg, Peter Chernin and Amy Pascal, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Agent Bryan Lourd and Warner Bros. Picture Group Chairman Toby Emmerich are also serving as co-hosts, The Times reported. The lengthy list of co-hosts also includes interior designer Michael Smith and his husband, James Costos, former President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Spain.

Costos and Smith hosted a fundraiser for Biden in May at their home in Brentwood. Katzenberg and Chernin were also among the co-hosts of that event, which is estimated to have raised about $700,000 for Biden’s campaign.

Entertainment lawyer Skip Brittenham is also expected to attend with his actress wife, Heather Thomas, The Times reported. Also expected are producer and talent manager Eric Ortner, who was instrumental in securing celebrities for Obama’s campaign events in 2012, “Joy” producer John Davis and Geffen Records President Neil Jacobson, according to The Times.

Biden will remain in the Los Angeles area overnight and is expected to attend two more fundraisers in the area on Friday.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.