SAN FRANCISCO - President Joe Biden ramps up his reelection effort this week with four fundraisers in the San Francisco area, as his campaign builds up its coffers and lays strategic foundations for 2024.
On Tuesday, he convened a group of technology leaders to debate artificial intelligence, the source of several congressional hearings in recent weeks.
The Biden administration is seeking to figure out how to regulate the emergent field of AI, looking for ways to nurture its potential for economic growth and national security and protect against its potential dangers. Biden met with experts from academia and advocacy groups.
The sudden emergence of AI chatbot ChatGPT and other tools has jumpstarted investment in the sector. AI tools are able to craft human-like text, music, images and computer code. This form of automation could increase the productivity of workers, but experts warn of numerous harms. The technology could be used to replace workers, causing layoffs. It’s already being deployed in false images and videos, becoming a vehicle of disinformation that could undermine democratic elections.
But, a significant portion of Biden's trip is to raise money to win the 2024 election.
In the back half of June, Biden’s campaign will have more than 20 fundraisers involving him, Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, according to a person involved in Biden’s travel plans who insisted on anonymity to discuss the schedule.
More than half of the fundraisers are with the Democratic president, who arrived in California on Monday and was greeted by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Biden also will be traveling to New York, Maryland and Illinois. The president hit the themes of his campaign at a Friday fundraising event in Connecticut, saying his goal is to do more to tell voters about his legislative accomplishments with infrastructure, computer chip production and programs for responding to climate change, among other policies.
At the first of two Monday fundraisers, Biden said democracy itself was at stake in the 2024 election and said his administration had reinstilled "a sense of confidence in the Constitution." The fundraiser at the home of Microsoft chief technology officer Kevin Scott was cohosted by Reid Hoffman, the billionaire cofounder of LinkedIn.
Biden took aim at Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville for holding up military promotions because of a policy that ensures members of the military still have access to abortions, which were restricted in many states after a Supreme Court ruling last year. "It’s bizarre. I don’t remember it happening before and I’ve been around," said Biden, 80, who added a joke about his age: "I know I don’t look like I’ve been around a long time."
The fundraising blitz follows Biden’s first campaign rally on Saturday in Philadelphia, where he was endorsed by key unions — the event highlighting a pivotal constituency in the largest population center of a critical battleground state. It was meant as an early display of enthusiasm for Biden’s campaign, and a venue for him to interact directly with voters before he spends much of the rest of the month meeting with deep-pocketed benefactors.
The flurry of engagements comes ahead of the end of the fundraising quarter at the end of the month — and Biden’s campaign finance report in July will provide the first test of Democratic donor enthusiasm for his reelection effort.
Biden, unlike former President Donald Trump and other 2024 GOP contenders, has not revealed any clues about his fundraising haul since declaring his candidacy in April. And his campaign launch was timed to avoid having to file a campaign finance report for the first quarter, a historically rough fundraising period.
For the first time in U.S, elections, Biden has joint fundraising agreements with all 50 state Democratic parties and the branch in Washington, D.C., an arrangement that can help maximize donations while minimizing expenses in the early months of the campaign. It’s part of a broader effort to unite a diverse Democratic coalition behind Biden as the Republicans undergo what could be a large and divisive primary.
"While MAGA Republicans burn cash in their primary, competing for whose agenda is the most extreme, the president’s campaign will be capitalizing on the opportunity to raise significant resources," said Biden’s campaign manager Julie C. Rodriguez, referring to Trump’s "Make America Great Again" slogan.
Separately, Rodriguez is traveling across the U.S. to meet with donors, local officials and community leaders to help align the coalition. Along with other campaign officials, the tour begins in Atlanta and will include Boston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and St. Louis.
Not all of Biden’s time Monday and Tuesday in San Francisco was devoted to the campaign. On Monday, he went with Newsom and other officials to the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center and Preserve in Palo Alto. He toured the coastal wetland area and announced $600 million for projects to address climate change.
"These wetlands act as a critical buffer between the rising tides and the communities at risk," said Biden, calling the preserve a "success story" in ongoing efforts to contain the damage from climate change.
KTVU's Allie Rasmus contributed to this report.