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Celebs shower Biden with campaign cash, but could undercut ‘Scranton Joe’ image

Celebrities from Hollywood have made large donations to President Biden's re-election campaign, which could undercut the president's "Scranton Joe" image.

Celebrities and elites at the highest echelons of American society and industry have showered President Biden’s re-election campaign with massive donations, which could undercut the 46th president’s homespun “Scranton Joe” and “Amtrak Joe” image. 

Biden took the stage of Los Angeles’s Peacock Theater earlier this month, when he was flanked by former President Obama and late night host Jimmy Kimmel. The audience, performers and others attending the event in Biden’s support included Hollywood elites such as George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Barbra Streisand, Jack Black, Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn and Mindy Kaling, Vanity Fair reported. The star-studded fundraiser was a monetary success for the president’s re-election campaign, shattering previous Democratic fundraising benchmarks with $30 million in donations, the Biden campaign said earlier this month. 

The swank fundraiser, however, comes at a time when inflation continues throttling the average American household, and the president pitches himself to voters as a man of the people with humble roots in Scranton, Pennsylvania. 


“2024 will be a choice between two very different economic visions for America: Donald Trump, who sees the world from his country club at Mar-a-Lago, and President Biden, who sees the world from kitchen tables in Scranton,” Biden’s campaign website reads. 

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The 2023-2024 election cycle is anticipated to be the most costly in history, with Forbes reporting political ad spending would top $10 billion across White House and congressional races. 

Following Biden announcing in April of last year that he’d “finish the job” and run for re-election, the Biden-Harris campaign amped up its fundraisers for the anticipated rematch against former President Trump. 

As Hollywood’s writers’ strike raged last year, Biden engaged with Broadway stars to boost campaign funds, with performers such as Sara Bareilles, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt appearing on behalf of Biden in September for a star-studded fundraiser, the AP reported

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As 2023 drew to a close, Biden went on a Hollywood-focused fundraiser blitz. Singer James Taylor performed during a Boston fundraiser in December, before the president traveled to Los Angeles, where he held a series of fundraisers, including one joined by filmmaker Steven Spielberg, director and actor Rob Reiner and producer Shonda Rhimes, in addition to California politicos such as Gov. Gavin Newsom and Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff. Singer Lenny Kravitz performed during the event, which cost $1,000 to $500,000 per ticket, the Los Angeles Daily News reported at the time. 

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Vice President Kamala Harris also attended swank fundraisers last year, including one on Martha’s Vineyard with “Suits” actor Wendell Pierce during an event billed as “grassroots” that sold tickets for $50 to $10,000. 

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Hollywood stars and executives were among the first to pad Biden’s campaign coffers ahead of the election cycle kicking off in earnest this year. Former Walt Disney Studios chair Jeffrey Katzenberg, for example, made an $889,600 contribution to Biden last year, as did Lin-Manuel Miranda, when he donated $20,000, Deadline reported last year. Other Hollywood and tech leaders made sizable donations to the Biden Victory Fund, DNC, or other Democratic initiatives in 2023, such as OpenAI CEO Sam Altman donating $200,000, actor and voice actor Seth MacFarlane donating $100,000, and music composer Michael Skloff donating $100,000, the outlet reported. 

The Biden campaign and Democratic National Committee announced earlier this year that they raised $97 million in the last three months of 2023, which PBS reported was “boosted” by Biden’s swank events with Hollywood stars. 

The Biden-Harris campaign continued courting celebrities and other moneyed elites this year, including at New York City’s Radio City in March, which was hosted by actress Mindy Kaling, with late night host Stephen Colbert moderating a conversation with Biden, Obama and former President Bill Clinton. Special guests such as Queen Latifah, Lizzo and Ben Platt were also in attendance, according to media reports. The event pulled in more than $26 million, according to the campaign. 

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Harris also headlined fundraising events in her native California earlier this year, where she joined a clean energy leader in San Francisco, before another stop at the home of author Robert Mailer Anderson and Oracle heiress Nicola Miner in the city’s Pacific Heights neighborhood. The Pacific Heights fundraiser cost attendees upward of $100,00 per person, and included support from theater director Jonathan Moscone and Mayor London Breed, as well as a performance from singer Carole King, the San Francisco Standard reported at the time. 

Trump, whose real estate background and reality TV success cemented him in Hollywood’s orbit pre-politics, has also held high-profile fundraisers this election cycle, but seldom with movie elites. Instead, he has held swank events at his Mar-a-Lago estate, met with residents of wealthy areas such as Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, and has attended high-profile public events at Madison Square Garden, but not for fundraising purposes. 

Biden previously had a massive fundraising advantage over Trump in the 2024 race for the White House, but recent windfalls following Trump’s conviction in the New York criminal trial have essentially erased Biden’s lead, Fox News Digital reported this weekend. Trump and the RNC notched their second consecutive month in May of outraising Biden and the DNC, all while not yet launching a general election ad buy. Biden’s campaign, conversely, has spent at least $65 million on ad purchases. 

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“The only people in America who support Joe Biden’s failing campaign are elitist Hollywood celebrities,” Trump spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said in a statement earlier this month. 

Biden’s ritzy fundraisers were also slammed in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week by Fox News contributor Daniel Henninger, who noted that after decades of the Democratic Party benefiting from Hollywood money, the 2024 election cycle could change the game for the left-wing party as inflation continues spiraling. 

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“The Democratic Party’s celebrity dependency has been background noise for decades and not a problem… until now. This presidential election remains closely contested. With the cost of living the No. 1 issue, each swing-state vote deserves attention. In this high-stakes context, the spectacle of the incumbent president jetting from Europe to Hollywood is the kind of look Mr. Biden and his party don’t need. He’s Hollywood Joe,” Henniger wrote. 

“​​But notice that on the day Mr. Biden tapped the Hollywood ATM, Mr. Trump campaigned at a black church in Detroit. It is becoming hard to suppress the reality reported in polls that Mr. Trump, former host of “The Apprentice,” is peeling off layers of the traditional Democratic coalition – blacks, Hispanics, younger Americans and possibly even Jewish voters. The Democratic base once had something resembling a common identity, but not so much anymore. And it’s getting late to fix that,” he continued

Biden’s campaign did face criticism last month when actor Robert DeNiro headlined a campaign event outside the Manhattan courthouse where Trump faced – and was ultimately found guilty – 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Donald Trump wants to destroy not only the city, but the country. And eventually he could destroy the world,” De Niro said at the press conference. Biden and Harris were present during the campaign event. 

Following his remarks, De Niro was shouted down by supporters as a “washed-up actor” and “trash,” and was accused of being a “paid actor for the DNC.” 

“You’re a f—ing idiot,” De Niro shouted at one of the pro-Trump protesters. 

The event was subsequently slammed on social media by critics as a “terrible look for Democrats,” and compared to the satirical political comedy show “Veep.” 

Fox News Digital reached out to the Biden campaign for comment regarding recent star-studded fundraisers and if they could undercut the president’s “Scranton Joe” image while inflation continues spiraling this election cycle. 

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