LOS ANGELES: A day after his wife pushed away protesters who rushed him on stage, Joe Biden tried to turn the episode – which prompted calls for Secret Service protection – into a joke.
“I’m probably the only candidate who’s run for president whose wife’s my Secret Service,” Biden said at a Los Angeles fundraiser on Wednesday night, hours after congressional Democrats asked that major presidential candidates be provided a Secret Service detail.
“I think they’re afraid Jill’s going to hurt someone,” he quipped.
“I tell you what, man, I married way above my station.”
The Biden campaign declined to comment on whether it has made a formal request to the agency, as is required for it to begin considering whether to assign him a security detail.
On Tuesday night, four protesters from an animal rights group called Direct Action Everywhere approached the stage in Los Angeles where Biden was delivering his Super Tuesday victory speech.
Two of them were stopped before they could get on stage, but two got within inches of Biden before being shoved away by Jill Biden and senior adviser Symone Sanders, with help from a campaign security guard and a handful of other Biden staffers.
The Wednesday night fundraiser, held high in the hills of Bel Air, had originally been planned for 80 guests but swelled to more than 350 after Biden’s standing in the presidential race improved.
Tickets ranged from US$1,000 to US$2,800 per person. His campaign said earlier Wednesday that it had raised more than US$7.1 million during the 42-hour period beginning Tuesday at midnight after Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign announced it took in US$5 million during that period.
The event was just the second public appearance for the former vice president after his wins in 10 states – but not California – on Super Tuesday, putting him on a path to a one-on-one contest with Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Host Sherry Lansing, the producer and former chief executive officer of Paramount Pictures, said the fundraiser had been scheduled months ago and she planned to have 80 people in her living room.
“But then South Carolina happened and the calls just kept coming in,” she said.
“Over and over. It was like a deluge and obviously we didn’t want to turn anyone away because anyone who is a friend of Joe Biden is a friend of mine.”
In the end, some 350 people filled her backyard on Wednesday night.