“Joe! Joe!”: President Biden arrives to cheers at Moffett Field as California flexes political clout

This is Biden’s third visit of the year to the Bay Area

As President Joe Biden stepped off Air Force One and onto the tarmac at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View on Tuesday afternoon, a small crowd erupted in applause, yelling “Joe! Joe!”

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Susan Ellenberg, dressed in a gold satin pantsuit, and David Korsmeyer, deputy center director at NASA’s Ames Research Center, shook hands with the president and chatted with him for several minutes before Biden headed over to greet the crowd.

The octogenarian president showed no signs of age as he broke into a jog, igniting another round of applause on the tarmac.

Biden spoke briefly with a young girl before taking someone’s phone and taking a selfie with them. He finished his brief visit with more handshakes and even a hug.

The president, who is in the Bay Area for the third time this year, then headed to Atherton for a fundraiser hosted by Peninsula philanthropists Mark Heising and Liz Simons.

Biden was flying in from Wayne County, Michigan, where he joined the United Auto Workers on the 12th day of their strike against major automakers — a move that labor experts said could be the first time a sitting president joined a picket line.

The arrival of Air Force One at Moffett Field at 3:17 p.m. marked the beginning of a whirlwind week in which California is thrust into the national political spotlight, with both Biden and Republican presidential candidates vying for votes and campaign cash.

The president left immediately after his arrival for Atherton to attend a fundraiser hosted by Peninsula-based philanthropists Mark Heising and Liz Simons. The Biden Victory Fund organized the sold-out event, with tickets ranging from $5,000 to $100,000.

Biden is scheduled to meet with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology on Wednesday. The 30-member group is made up of professors, scientists, CEOs, and technology experts who advise the president on policy issues requiring a “understanding of science, technology, and innovation.”

While Biden is unlikely to sway more potential voters during his two-day visit to the heavily blue state, San Jose State Political Science Professor Melinda Jackson believes his brief visit is about dollars and cents.

“We have a lot of wealthy donors that live in this area,” she continued. “It’s one of the country’s most politically progressive regions.” The irony is that we don’t get much attention because California isn’t a battleground state. It’s all about the money, and that money is then spent on campaigning in the state where the election will be held.”

As the 46th president departs the state tomorrow, seven of his Republican challengers, including former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, will take the stage for the second GOP debate Wednesday evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, several hundred miles south. Former President Donald Trump has opted out of the debate in order to meet with the United Auto Workers in Michigan.

Trump, on the other hand, will be in Orange County for the California Republican Party’s fall convention later this week. The conference, which runs from September 29 to October 1, will feature events hosted by Trump, DeSantis, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

While California has not supported a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, when voters chose former President George H.W. Bush over former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, GOP candidates continue to campaign in the Democrat-dominated state.

“Both parties go to where the money is,” Jackson explained. “Even though the Republican party has really diminished in terms of their numbers in California and their influence at the state level, we do still have very wealthy individuals on both sides that have the money to donate to their parties.”

DeSantis, who has emerged as one of Trump’s most serious Republican presidential rivals, is also set to host a brunch with agricultural leaders in Salinas on Thursday. The Florida governor has been embroiled in a culture war with California Gov. Gavin Newsom over the two states’ vastly different political ideologies.

On Monday, it was announced that DeSantis and Newsom would finally face off in person at a November debate hosted by Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

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