Biden opens Summit of the Americas in LA with Hollywood-style opening ceremony and calls democracy ‘the essential ingredient’ to the region’s future after snubbing authoritarian leaders and tells neighbors ‘we will enforce our borders’
‘We meet again today in a moment when democracy is under assault around the world, let us unite again and renew our conviction that democracy is not only the defining feature of American history, but the essential ingredient to Americas’ future,’ the president said.
Ahead of the summit, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he would boycott the gathering of the leaders of North, Central and South America over the U.S.’s plans to not invite the authoritarian heads of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Biden stuck with the snub – and López Obrador made good on not showing.
‘Our region is large and diverse. We don’t always agree on everything. But because we are democracies, we work through our disagreements with mutual respect and dialogue,’ Biden told the crowd.
A number of heads of state were present, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife – who Biden hugged when they greeted directly before the inaugural program. Vice President Kamala Harris gave remarks welcoming the crowd to her home state of California, as did Gov. Gavin Newsom and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.
As Biden went through some of aims of the summit, he also argued to leaders that ‘safe and orderly migration’ helps the region.
‘Unlawful migration is not acceptable,’ the president said. ‘We will enforce our borders.’
Besides the Mexican president, the heads of the three Northern Triangle countries – Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador – which are responsible for most of the migrants crossing into the United States, are not attending the summit.
President Joe Biden opened the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles Wednesday evening with a Holly-wood style opening ceremony at the Microsoft Theater – typically a venue for the Emmys
President Joe Biden greets children from Los Angeles during the inaugural ceremony for the Summit of the Americas Wednesday night
A Cirque du Soleil performer hangs from the ceiling of the Microsoft Theater during Wednesday night’s inaugural ceremony at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles
President Joe Biden (left) and First Lady Jill Biden (right) watch the performances during Wednesday night’s Summit of the Americas inaugural program in Los Angeles
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive for the inaugural program for the Summit of the Americas at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Wednesday
President Joe Biden (left) waves as he stands alongside First Lady Jill Biden (right) as they welcome leaders to the U.S.- hosted Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles
President Joe Biden (center right) greets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (center left) as First Lady Jill Biden (right) says hello to Sophie Gregoire Trudeau (left)
BROMANCE: President Joe Biden brings Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in for a hug as the first ladies shake hands
A protester shouts through the beginning of President Joe Biden’s speech Wednesday night in Los Angeles at the inaugural ceremony of the Summit of the Americas
California Gov. Gavin Newsom welcomes attendees to his state at the inaugural ceremony for the Summit of the Americas
First Lady Jill Biden waves to the crowd at the Hollywood-style opening ceremony of the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles Wednesday night
First Lady Jill Biden (left) watches the inaugural ceremony alongside Vice President Kamala Harris (right) for the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles Wednesday night
The president was briefly interrupted by single, female protester at the beginning of his remarks. She continued yelling as she was walked to the back of the theater by security.
The president had followed a song-and-dance number, complete with percussionists roaming through the theater, that had been put together by Emilio Estefan, who’s long been active in Democratic politics.
‘I probably should stop right here, I’ve followed some difficult acts in the past … but not such a difficult act as I’ve seen in the last 45 minutes up here,’ he said – a remark meant for the performers, but worked for the protester too.
The inaugural program also included performances from Colombian singer Jorge Celedon, Mexico’s Alex Fernandez and the Mariachi Divas Espectacular – which, as the name suggests, is a large Mariachi ensemble.
Cirque du Soleil acrobats dangled from the stage to a rendition of ‘Lean on Me’ performed by The Tenors, with the musical accompaniment done by ‘The President’s Own’ Marine Band.
Attendees exited to John Williams’ theme music from the movie Hook.
President Joe Biden and granddaughter Naomi (center), along with her fiance Peter Neal, (upper right) greet California Gov. Gavin Newsom (left) and his kids, as well as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as they arrive at LAX Wednesday afternoon
FAMILY AFFAIR: President Joe Biden arrived in Los Angeles Wednesday and greeted the children of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, as his grand-daughter Naomi (in yellow) and her fiance Peter Neal greet LA Mayor Eric Garcetti
President Joe Biden (right) is welcomed to Los Angeles by California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom (center) and his children (left)
Biden had landed in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon for the Summit of the Americas with Hunter’s daughter Naomi and her fiance Peter Neal at his side.
He was greeted at LAX by California Gov. Gavin Newsom – who easily won his primary Tuesday night – and his children, along with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s, whose nomination to become Biden’s ambassador to India is stalled in the Senate.
The president’s granddaughter Naomi and her finance Neal are set to have their wedding reception at the White House in November when they tie the knot.
During the flight, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said nothing will be off the table when Biden meets with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the summit Thursday – including talk about democratic elections after Bolsonaro this week questioned Biden’s 2020 win.
‘There are not topics off limits in any bilateral the president does, including with President Bolsonaro, first. Second, I do anticipate that the president will discuss open, free, fair, transparent democratic elections,’ Sullivan told reporters on board Air Force One.
Biden is set to sit face-to-face with Bolsonaro for the first time as president as part of the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.
In the run-up to the summit Bolsonaro, nicknamed ‘Trump of the Tropics’ raised doubts that Biden was indeed the winner of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, echoing his political ally former President Donald Trump’s false election fraud claims.
‘The American people are the ones who talk about [election fraud,],’ he said in a TV interview, according to Reuters. ‘I will not discuss the sovereignty of another country. But Trump was doing really well.’
President Joe Biden greets the children of California Gov. Gavin Newsom – Dutch William Siebel Newsom, Hunter Siebel Newsom, Montana Tessa Siebel Newsom, and Brooklynn Siebel Newsom – as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcettit (left) looks on
President Joe Biden walks off Marine One with grand-daughter Naomi and her fiance Peter Neal as he heads to an interview with late night host Jimmy Kimmel
‘We don’t want that to happen in Brazil,’ said Bolsonaro, who is on the ballot in October.
The White House was already getting questions about why Biden would grant Bolsonaro a meeting, while snubbing a trio of authoritarian leaders from the hemisphere: Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel, Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega.
‘I will not discuss the sovereignty of another country. But Trump was doing really well,’ Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Tuesday about the 2020 U.S. presidential election, insinuating he doubted President Joe Biden was the rightful winner
‘I guess what I would say about the decision to do a meeting is that President Bolsonaro is a democratically elected leader of Brazil, a country the United States shares a significant set of common interests and concerns,’ a senior administration official told reporters on a summit planning call.
Bolsonaro has suggested he could pull a Trump and, if the loser, might not concede his October presidential race.
On Wednesday before the leaders’ arrival, protesters gathered around LA’s City Hall with trucks blasting Bolsonaro for a ‘liar’ and for ‘burning the Amazon.’
Sullivan said Biden would also discuss Bolsonaro’s environmental record with the Brazilian leader.
‘Climate will be an important topic of conversation and we believe that it can be an area of progress in the U.S.-Brazil relationship particularly around concrete and tangible action to protect the Amazon,’ Sullivan said.
Sullivan was also asked if Biden is pushing democratic themes during his three days in Los Angeles, why he isn’t ending the summit with a press conference.
‘I think it would be hard to argue that he hasn’t taken many, many questions from the press,’ Sullivan answered when asked about a lack of press conference. ‘He’ll be, over the course of the next three days, obviously in front of and addressing the press in various ways.’
Biden ignored questions from the press Wednesday morning after reading a statement to reporters about Tuesday night’s primary results on Joint Base Andrews’ tarmac.
He then tripped up the steps of Air Force One.
President Joe Biden salutes as he boards Air Force One Wednesday to attend the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles There he’ll come face-to-face with Brazil’s ‘Trump of the Tropics,’ President Jair Bolsonaro, who has cast doubt on Biden’s 2020 win
President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One on Wednesday. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was asked if Biden is touting democracy on this trip, why he isn’t holding a formal press conference during the Summit of the Americas
People walk by a truck with messages against Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro during a protest in front of LA City Hall in Los Angeles Wednesday
Trucks in front of LA City Hall Wednesday called Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro a ‘liar’ and highlighted his environmental record of ‘burning the Amazon’
‘And I think by the end of this you can be pretty confident that he will be displaying – putting on full display – America’s raucous democracy and all of its wonderful and attractive forms,’ Sullivan continued.
‘I don’t see the kind of formal press conference issue as a particular litmus test,’ the top Biden adviser added.
Instead, Biden’s first stop when he touched down in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon was Jimmy Kimmel’s Hollywood studio for a taped interview.
It will be his first in-person sit-down with a late night show host since inauguration.
Biden’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! will air later Wednesday night.
Making use of the backdrop of Los Angeles, Biden will kick off the Summit of the Americas Wednesday evening at downtown LA’s Microsoft Theater, which has hosted the Emmys, Grammys, MTV Video Music Awards and other star-studded programs.
Hunter Biden’s daughter Naomi tells GOP Senator Ron Johnson she will ‘come into your office and call my dad on speakerphone so that you can confess your undying love for him’ if lawmaker backs gun control
Naomi Biden, the granddaughter of President Joe Biden, on Wednesday told Republican Senator Ron Johnson that she would come to his office and call her dad Hunter to speak to him if the lawmaker voted for gun reform legislation.
‘.@RonJohnsonWI, if you vote for stricter gun control measures, I will personally come into your office and call my dad on speakerphone so that you can confess your undying love for him directly,’ she wrote on Twitter.
Johnson has been one of the most outspoken critics of Hunter Biden, hitting the president’s son on a number of topics including his business dealings and his Secret Service detail. He has accused Hunter of financially profiting from Joe Biden’s time in public office.
Naomi Biden told Republican Sen. Ron Johnson she would come to his office and put her dad Hunter on speaker phone if Johnson voted for gun reform legislation
On Wednesday, Johnson was asked about the debate over what provisions should go into gun legislation.
Arthur Delaney, a reporter for Huffington Post, tweeted he asked Johnson about waiting periods for gun sales to buyers under 21 and that Johnson told him: ‘Before we pass anything new, let’s enforce the laws we already have. Let’s start with Hunter Biden.’
Johnson was referring to the claims Hunter lied on his background check and illegally purchased a firearm that was then dumped in a grocery store trash can.
Naomi Biden retweeted Delaney with her offer to come to his office if he votes for stricter gun control.
She is the oldest daughter of Hunter Biden and his first wife Kathleen. She got engaged to her longtime boyfriend Peter Neal in April and the president and first lady will host a wedding reception for them at the White House on November 19.
Meanwhile, bipartisan group of senators is working on its own gun reform legislation but no bill has yet been finalized.
Senators are looking at legislation that would reform background checks, encourage state red flag laws, enhance school safety and provide new mental health programs.
They are pushing to have a compromise bill ready by the end of the week.
At least 10 Republican votes are needed to reach the 60-vote threshold to advance legislation but Johnson is not expected to be one of them given his conservative ideology.
Johnson, who is running for re-election in Wisconsin, told CNN: ‘My main point on any kind of gun control is, let’s enforce the laws that we have. And let’s do it within a justice system that applies the laws equally. Maybe we should start with what Hunter Biden did in terms of his own background checks.’
He was likely referring to a report last year in Politico that Hunter Biden may have committed a felony offense by lying on a background check before purchasing a gun.