Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first visit to Los Angeles as a presidential candidate Wednesday, spending part of the day chatting with voters about border security, and issues specific to California — over tacos.
Biden mixed it up with donors at two campaign fundraisers. In a 20-minute speech to around 250 people, Biden said he was running to “restore the backbone of this country” and drew on his experience as a qualification to lead the nation.
A small group of protesters from the National Union of Healthcare Workers gathered nearby to raise concerns with event host Dr. Cynthia Telles, a board member of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan.
The union was demonstrating over Kaiser’s treatment of its mental health clinicians.
In downtown Los Angeles, Biden told reporters President Trump was engaging in fear tactics at the U.S.-Mexico border and not delivering solutions.
“The idea that we are just trying to scare the living devil out of the American public — ‘My God, hordes are coming,’ the way he characterizes it — is just simply wrong,” he said.
Biden said he will soon release a plan to address the long-running problems at the border. Part of his proposal would call for a way to quickly determine whether an immigrant is qualified to enter the U.S. He did not answer whether undocumented immigrants would qualify for Medicare or Medicaid.
Between fundraisers, Biden and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti visited a popular taco chain where the 2020 candidate was greeted with applause, then posed for selfies with patrons and talked gun control and homelessness.
“The idea that we don’t have universal background checks … this is crazy,” he said of gun control measures long proposed by Democrats, FOX 11 of Los Angeles reported.
He also mentioned the relief that came over him when Garcetti announced in January he would not run for president, calling the mayor a potentially tough opponent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.