From an early morning spin at the “gay embassy” to an evening of schmoozing in the Mission, Jill Biden had a busy day in San Francisco yesterday. The first lady is in the Golden State to kick off fundraising for her husband’s reelection campaign, prior to President Joe Biden’s Bay Area visit on June 19.
Want to know what America’s first couple is up to around town? Read on to find out.
President Joe Biden announced he would run for reelection in late April. Just over a month later, The Standard learned the president and first lady would make separate June visits to the San Francisco Bay Area, a Democratic stronghold and hometown of Vice President Kamala Harris.
The president is expected to spend three days traveling in the Bay Area from June 19-21, according to a White House Press release. The first lady arrived first, making a single-day visit to San Francisco on Tuesday.
Hot off her trip to New York City on Monday, the first lady made a relatively low-key visit to San Francisco on Tuesday. San Franciscans scratched their heads at the glossy black cars that rolled down the streets, flanked by SF police and Secret Service, some dressed in plain clothes.
The Standard spotted a massive motorcycle brigade stationed outside the Mark Hopkins Hotel in Nob Hill, where Biden was rumored to be staying.
Biden took a SoulCycle spin class with instructor Chris Layda. After the 45-minute ride, she was spotted leaving the gym in blue leggings paired with white running shoes and a black top. The first lady notably chose the SoulCycle in the Castro——a spot one Standard reader called the “gay embassy"—during Pride Month.
An onlooker bid the first lady, “Happy Pride!” on her way out of the gym in San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ district.
Biden squeezed in a visit to the sunshine of the Marin County town of Larkspur. She was hosted by an “increasingly active progressive fundraiser” in Silicon Valley, venture capitalist David Rusenko, said Teddy Schleifer of Puck News.
Meanwhile, POTUS was getting a root canal, according to San Francisco Chronicle politics reporter Dustin Gardiner.
“Nothing can slow him down, not even dental surgery,” Jill Biden reportedly said, telling donors in Marin County the president was recently “up all night” with a toothache.
At the event, the first lady also met Helen Russell, co-founder of local roaster Equator Coffees, according to Russell’s Instagram.
The Standard spotted Biden’s motorcade making its way down Market Street, which became car-free in 2020—guess there are some exceptions when the Secret Service is involved.
Jill Biden’s fundraising stop at Manny’s in the Mission was packed shoulder-to-shoulder and nose-to-back, according to the guests who snagged tickets. Donations started at $100—a price level that quickly sold out—so most attendees paid $250, $500 and up. The VIP lounge was much roomier—and therefore, much less hot—and filled with both local democratic leaders and a slew of drag queens, including Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, Honey Mahogany, Donna Sachet and Dulce de Leche.
Manny’s is known as a civic engagement and organizing hub in San Francisco. The cafe, run by Manny Yekutiel, helped leverage thousands of election volunteers for the Biden campaign in 2020.
“They chose us for a reason,” said Yekutiel in his introduction to Biden on Tuesday. "They chose this place because San Francisco matters. It is a crucible of civic life in this country. We make shit happen."
“Remember how hard it was last time? This time, it's going to be even harder,” Jill Biden told the crowd at Manny’s. “The fight for freedom doesn't end. This is the most important election of our lives.”
The first lady capped off her day at Pier 27 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Giffords Law Center. Founded by former House Rep. Gabby Giffords after a deadly San Francisco shooting, the organization works to reduce gun violence by advocating for gun legislation changes.
“What an inspiring evening and privilege it was to meet Gabby Giffords and hear Dr. Jill Biden speak on gun violence prevention,” wrote housing consultant Sharon Lai on LinkedIn. “My kids, like many others, learned to shelter in their classrooms before even learning to read.”
The first lady bid farewell to San Francisco and capped off her whirlwind California fundraising trip with a daylong visit to Los Angeles on Wednesday. The local Democratic Party and Women’s Leadership Forum hosted a 12:30 p.m. event, raising money for the Biden Victory Campaign.
Air Force One is expected to touch down in the Bay Area on Monday as Juneteenth celebrations kick off.
The president last visited San Francisco in 2019 when he was running for office. That trip included a private democratic fundraiser hosted by Sen. Dianne Feinstein at the Fairmont Hotel in Nob Hill and another Biden fundraiser at the Palo Alto home of Silicon Valley venture capitalist Greg Sands. Then-candidate Biden also attended a small fundraiser in South San Francisco.
San Francisco is set to host a whole slew of politicians who have thrown their hats in the ring for the 2024 presidential election. Two Republican candidates—Nikki Haley and Tim Scott—may visit SF as soon as this week, before Florida Republican Ron DeSantis touches down on the same day as President Biden, Monday.
Three Democratic mega-donors will host the president in Los Gatos on Monday, at a time to be announced, per Puck News. Hosts include Microsoft Chief of Technology Kevin Scott, philanthropist Shannon Hunt-Scott and internet entrepreneur Reid Hoffman. An appearance in the Marin County town of Ross is also reportedly in the works.
This is a developing story.
Liz Lindqwister can be reached at email@example.com