President Biden wraps up SoCal trip with visit to Orange County
After a day in Los Angeles that featured a visit to a Metro construction site, an impromptu taco run and a political fundraiser, President Joe Biden will travel to Orange County Friday to discuss his administration's efforts aimed at lowering costs for American families.
Biden is scheduled to travel Friday afternoon from Santa Monica Airport to John Wayne Airport, en route to a speech at Irvine Valley College, after which he will return to the airport and fly to Portland, Oregon, concluding his swing through the area.
At his Irvine event, Biden is expected to talk about programs aimed at easing financial burdens for American families, according to the White House.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday Biden's appearances in Orange County and Oregon will highlight "his efforts to lower prescription drug costs, protect Medicare and strengthen Social Security, and to fight efforts by congressional Republicans to put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block and reinstate giveaways to Big Pharma."
Before he reaches Orange County, however, motorists near Westwood, West Los Angeles and Santa Monica could experience traffic delays to accommodate the presidential motorcade as Biden is driven to Santa Monica Airport for the short flight.
Biden's arrival Wednesday night at Los Angeles International Airport and subsequent motorcade from Santa Monica Airport to Westwood snarled rush-hour traffic for hours.
On Thursday, Biden toured the construction site of what will be the Metro D (Purple) Line subway terminus near the West Los Angeles VA complex. During the visit, he touted the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, saying it was making funding available for critical projects locally.
"Every year, people take more than 22 million rides on your subways, your light rail and your buses," Biden told the crowd of dignitaries and workers. "It's how so many people get to work, school and how tourists and locals explore this world-class city. But the transit system needs an upgrade badly. You know that. You need to connect more neighborhoods, ease traffic congestion, air pollution, make it easier for people to get around to where they need to go.
"That's exactly what you're doing. That's exactly what you're doing. But it's being funded in part through this infrastructure law -- through local taxes and the infrastructure law. This project, the extension of the Metro Purple Line, it's gonna cover one of L.A.'s busiest areas and job centers."
Biden touted the project as dramatically cutting the time it will take to travel from downtown to West Los Angeles, adding more than 80,000 daily riders to the Metro system while taking 27,000 cars off the roads. He also said it would result in 124,000 fewer tons of carbon dioxide being released into the air, and would save 14 million gallons of gas.
He pointed to ongoing renovations to the terminal area at Los Angeles International Airport and an eventual rail connection. He also said improvements are being made to improve the movement of cargo in and out of the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex.
"We're building a new four-lane road to the Port of Los Angeles to make it easier for the trucks to drive up to the container terminal, load up their goods for transport," he said. "And the port of Long Beach, one of the busiest container ports in the nation, we're going to deepen the channel so ships can move in and out of the harbor faster."
Biden also talked about efforts to rebuild bridges and other transportation infrastructure across the state, along with ensuring access to the internet in low-income neighborhoods and bolstering water delivery systems.
"It's been a rough four or five years for the country. ... but there's bright spots where America's reasserting itself," he said. "Like here, where the best workers in the world are hard at work building a better future for all of us. ... We just have to keep it going, and I know we can. I know we can. I've never been more optimistic about America's future, particularly relative to the rest of the world. We're in a better position than any nation in the world, and every other nation that I'm aware of is aware of it.
"... We just have to remember who we are. We are the United States of America, and there's nothing, nothing that's beyond our capacity, nothing, when we decide we're going to do it together."
After his roughly 20-minute speech, Biden shook hands with attendees and posed for photos. Among the other dignitaries on hand were Mayor Eric Garcetti, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, and Reps. Ted Lieu, Brad Sherman, Maxine Waters and Nanette Barragan.
Also in attendance was Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, and a mayoral candidate -- who Biden has endorsed in next month's runoff election against businessman Rick Caruso, who is also a Democrat.
Biden referred to her as the "soon-to-be" mayor as he began his remarks.
After greeting some attendees, Biden got back into his motorcade for the trip back to his hotel in Westwood, but the caravan made an unannounced stop at Mexican restaurant called Tacos 1986 on Kinross Avenue.
Biden interacted with workers and said he was placing a "takeout order for Bass." When he took out cash to pay for the food he ordered, a worker told him he would get a 50% "public service" discount. Biden gave the cashier $60 and told him to give the next customer a free meal. Biden's food bill was $16.45 -- covering two quesadillas and six tacos.
The president attended a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser Thursday night that also included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.
The California Republican Party chided Biden's visit, calling the state an "odd choice" for the president to choose "as a backdrop for bragging about his failed policies," noting the national-high cost of gas, rising crime and homelessness.
"If President Biden is looking for a sympathetic audience to high- five him for a job well done, he's come to the wrong state," state Republican Party Chair Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement.
"Californians are suffering under the reckless policies of Joe Biden and the California Democrats who enable his failed agenda. Make no mistake -- the path to the House majority runs straight through our state, and California voters will ensure that Republicans are put in charge to turn our country around from the mess that Democrats have made."
The last time Biden was in Los Angeles in June, he was serving as a host of the Summit of the Americas. He also spoke at two Democratic National Committee fundraisers during that visit.
"President Biden visiting California means he knows what Republicans have known for months: Democrats are in trouble," said Hallie Balch of the Republican National Committee. "From sky-high gas prices to rising crime, California Democrats have hitched their wagons to the wrong agenda. Californians are tired of the Biden agenda and the many consequences it has brought to the Golden State."