LOS ANGELES (CN) – Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden called for tougher gun control laws and talked about American foreign policy as he snuck in a stop for tacos Wednesday with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in between fundraising events in the city.
Inside the fabled King Taco restaurant in the city’s Pico Union neighborhood, Biden shook hands with surprised customers and gleefully snapped a selfie with the mayor as curious onlookers stretched to catch a glimpse of the former vice president and Delaware senator.
Biden, who launched his bid for president two weeks ago, has reason to be in high spirits.
A poll released Tuesday found that Biden has maintained a commanding lead over a crowded field of Democratic candidates in the race despite renewed attention over his nonconsensual touching of women and his handling of Anita Hill’s testimony during confirmation hearings for U.S Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The Hill-HarrisX poll found that 46% of Democrats and Democrat-leaning registered voters said Biden should be the Democratic Party’s nominee, placing him 32% ahead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who received 14%.
Biden also set the record for fundraising in the first 24 hours of a campaign at $6.3 million.
Biden continued his cash-raking efforts Wednesday with two high-priced fundraisers in the city, including an event hosted by Cynthia Telles, a licensed psychologist and board member of Kaiser Permanente.
Biden told fundraiser attendees that the focus of his campaign would be to bring the country together and to restore the nation’s economic middle class.
President Donald Trump’s foreign policy decisions have fractured international relations, Biden told attendees, adding that his experience on foreign policy puts him ahead of other Democratic contenders.
“Four years of this president will be an aberration in a moment in history,” Biden said. “Eight years will fundamentally change who we are, beginning particularly in foreign policy.”
After ordering an al pastor taco, Biden, who ordered under the name “Jose,” told reporters that the country needed stronger regulations on gun ownership in the wake of the shooting Tuesday at a suburban Denver school.
Biden also said he would “not speak ill” of any Democratic candidates in the field.
“The last thing the Democratic Party needs now is for there to be a fight among Democrats that gets into something unseemly,” Biden said. “Whether it happens or not, I pledge to you I will not be part of it.”
Garcetti, who briefly explored a run for president before dropping out in January, told reporters outside the restaurant that he will likely endorse a candidate in the coming months, but for now will instead push for national conversations on issues that hit home for Angelenos.
“My responsibility is to get candidates to talk about what matters most; homelessness, climate change, infrastructure,” Garcetti said. “My responsibility is to those 4 million people here and to make sure people are not just coming here for donations but to take care of the issues that matter to us. Joe has taken care of us in the past.”
With a pool of more than 20 Democratic presidential hopefuls, Garcetti said it would be best for the party to select a candidate sooner than later but that the timeline shouldn’t detract from campaigning.
“We need a good year of seeing these candidates on stage to hear their ideas,” Garcetti said. “I have confidence that we can beat Donald Trump and Joe Biden is obviously the type of person who can do that.”
Outside the restaurant, Michelle Cortez, who Biden had invited to join him at the table for lunch, told reporters that she asked Biden to, if elected, take action to end homelessness, which has become pervasive in her city.
“[Homelessness] was the first issue that popped into my head,” said Cortez, who added that she would be voting for Biden. “He was very nice.”