In-demand Jill Biden zigzags the country in the final battle for the vote


Dr. Jill Biden thought the last two weeks before the midterm elections would be intense.

But instead of giving up the multitasking often demanded of a first lady — spouse, hostess, adviser, parent, party planner, initiative creator, messenger, surrogate — she’s leaned into it, and is now using her busy schedule to “.I see you” to women voters.

Except for teaching two classes a week at Northern Virginia Community College, the first lady’s staff has long since cleared much of her schedule for the latter part of October and the first week of November, knowingly, a senior Biden adviser told CNN. Biden should have the “skin” to engage in an effective expansion that is needed as polls tighten in races across the country.

As first lady, Jill Biden is not only logistically easier to get in and out of the states – although significantly, her security footprint and requirements are smaller in terms of size than those of President Joe Biden – first ladies are a more pleasant presence in the administration. for undecided and independent voters. Historically, they represent a more relatable surrogate than the candidate herself – Jill Biden likes to step out from behind the podium at fundraisers, carry a handheld microphone with her, and encourage the audience to come closer.

“You could even argue that she’s more relatable than Mrs. Bush or Mrs. Obama to women voters who are juxtaposing their identities as wives and mothers with their roles in the workplace,” said Katherine Jellison, a history professor at Ohio University who conducted the first in-depth study. ladies, pointing to the popularity of Laura Bush and Michelle Obama’s midterm campaign.

Jill Biden has been in several swing states without her husband over the past month, including Wisconsin, Georgia, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Arizona, where the first lady will spend Saturday smitten with Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. During these stops and events, sometimes three in one day, the first lady uses her “Jill from Philly” persona to connect with voters.

“Like many educators to stay organized, I use to-do lists,” Biden said this week at a political event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “So this election will be won or lost where voting is on your to-do list.”

Biden was speaking to a group of mostly teachers, but he could also be speaking to busy moms or dads, for whom having more than one important daily task is a daily reality.

“Put voting at the top of your to-do list,” he said. “We all have that teacher’s voice. This makes people stop what they are doing and pay attention. Well, now is the time to use it.’

The “to-do list” theme is a more recent addition to Biden’s campaign script; He used it at campaign events in New Hampshire and New York in late October, and again this week in Pennsylvania. It’s supposedly in his arsenal by Saturday.

Since Saturday, Biden has traveled to more than a dozen states over the past month, stopping by for occasional events about his personal initiatives, but has largely talked about President Biden and Democratic achievements in areas that will count for all of Tuesday’s votes. Joe Biden has traveled to 10 states at the same time, even some more than once.

A DNC spokesperson told CNN: “He has done 11 fundraising events for the DNC. His signature events, emails, SMS and direct mail have brought millions of dollars to the DNC to support Democrats.”

On Sunday, Jill Biden will be in Houston with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo for one of her few low-vote appearances. On Monday, Biden will meet Democratic US Representative Jennifer Wexton in Virginia before joining President Biden in Maryland for a campaign event on the eve of Election Day. On Tuesday, election day, Jill Biden will teach her usual class.

Among the recurring anecdotes for the first lady at fundraisers and appearances is the story of the friend she had when she was 17, pregnant and unable to legally have an abortion without a psychiatric evaluation because she was diagnosed as “mentally unfit.”

Biden says he asked his mother if the girl could stay with them after she was released from the hospital to recuperate after the procedure, and Biden’s mother said, “Yes.”

“My mother and I never talked about it again,” he told a group of donors last month at an event for Jonathan Soros’ New York Democratic Legislative Committee. “Silence, shame, silence, danger. Even death. That’s what defined that era for so many women. So I was surprised when the Dobbs decision came out. For me, I felt it was devastating. You know, how could we go back to those times?”.

Because abortion rights are among the most important issues for voters, it’s largely up to Biden to get to that persona when speaking on the campaign trail, and it’s another reason why he’s called upon to be Biden. mostly for events.

“I think abortion ‘how things used to be’ stories are always more effective from a woman than a man. So Jill would definitely be more effective than Joe,” Jellison said.

Jill Biden needs to get another, perhaps more subliminal, task as a campaign surrogate.

Joe Biden turns 80 less than two weeks after Election Day, and his quickness and mental acuity are regularly criticized by Republicans, including former President Donald Trump. Former presidential rival Biden often plays a video of his comments at rallies to introduce his successor as an old man with a gaffe.

These criticisms have led some to question whether he is too old to be a senior leader. But by praising Joe Biden’s accomplishments on behalf of the Democratic Party, Jill Biden, 71, paints a picture for voters of someone unfazed by age, despite being the oldest president in the country’s history.

“His focus has been on the record of achievement of the Biden administration, so in that way it’s a matter of ability and achievement,” Jellison said, “which I’m sure he and others hope will translate as a positive indication of the president’s physical and mental health.”