Biden tours Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement hours after getting mayor’s endorsement

Former Vice President Joe Biden visited the construction site of the bridge that will replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge where he took a brief tour of the site and met with local leaders on Thursday afternoon.

One of those leaders was Mayor Robert Garcia who announced his endorsement for Biden in the 2020 presidential race. Garcia had previously endorsed California Senator Kamala Harris in March 2019.

A screenshot of a June 27, 2019 tweet from Mayor Robert Garcia’s account.

But Harris announced she was dropping out of the race in December after lackluster fundraising over the year. Garcia was joined by local state legislature representatives Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell and Senator Lena Gonzalez.

Former Vice President Joe Biden walks with Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia as he gives a tour of the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project in Long Beach, CA. Thursday, January 9, 2020. Biden visits the Southland in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Garcia praised Biden who was part of the Obama administration that helped fund the bridge replacement project and for his commitment to infrastructure during their time in office. The $1.3 billion bridge broke ground in 2013 as the Port of Long Beach sought to replace a bridge that was at the end of its natural life, but also replace it with one that could allow taller ships to enter the port complex.

The new bridge, which hasn’t yet been named, will provide about 50 feet more clearance than its predecessor.

“We’re very happy to have the Vice President here,” Garcia said. “He’s ready to lead our country on Day One and we’re just grateful for his leadership and to show him this great facility.”

This is Biden’s first trip to Long Beach during this election cycle as he and Senator Elizabeth Warren were absent from November’s state Democratic Convention hosted at the Long Beach Convention Center. According to the most recent FiveThirtyEight poll, Biden is polling first (22%) in California, slightly ahead of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (21.9%).

As the two made their way to the motorcade, Biden briefly responded to a reporter’s question about what Garcia’s endorsement meant to him saying that it “meant a lot.” Another reporter shouted what Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s endorsement meant which was announced hours before his visit to the bridge.

“Him as well,” Biden said as he continued walking away and waved.

Former Vice President Joe Biden tours the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project as he talks to Mario Cordero, right Executive Director Port of Long Beach and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, left, in Long Beach, CA. Thursday, January 9, 2020. Biden visits the Southland in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the bridge replacing the Gerald Desmond Bridge has not yet been named.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.
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