In one of her most candid public appearances yet, Jill Biden on Tuesday made the case for her husband to be the next president in a highly personal and sentimental conclusion to the night’s Democratic National Convention activities.
“How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole,” she said. “With love and understanding and with small acts of kindness, with bravery, with unwavering faith.”
It was a vivid contrast to the nominal keynote address — a mix of elected officials featured in a montage of support for Joe Biden, the party’s now-official nominee. Jill Biden spoke in the same slot as Michelle Obama, whose address Monday night gained widespread praise for her earnestness and stern critique of President Donald Trump.
But while Michelle Obama spoke of Biden’s achievements as vice president, Jill Biden discussed her husband’s achievements as a family man. And those qualities, she said, would help repair the divisions in a country reeling from a pandemic and its economic fallout.
Jill Biden’s appearance was preceded by a video diving deeply into her relationship with the former vice president. With testimony from grandchildren and former staff, the video painted a picture of a Biden family of large personalities that had overcome extreme loss. The Bidens discussed their bond after the death of Joe Biden’s first wife and his young daughter, in 1972. They discussed Jill Biden’s relationship with Joe Biden’s sons, Hunter and Beau, and how close they became before Joe and Jill’s marriage.
“She put us back together,” Joe Biden said in the presentation. “She gave me back my life. She gave us back a family.”
“Joe always told the boys, ‘Mommy sent Jill to us, and how could I argue with her?’“ Jill Biden said said during her talk. “And so we figured it out together.”
She expanded that message to address the divisions and woes plaguing the nation — from deep ideological divides to the isolation brought on by coronavirus.
While Michelle Obama acknowledged that the divisions in the country would mean many Americans wouldn’t receive her message, Jill Biden struck a more unifying tone. She expressed hope that her husband would be able to mend the divisions and lead the country out of crisis.
“Yes, so many classrooms are quiet right now. The playgrounds are still. But if you listen closely, you can hear the sparks of change in the air,” Jill Biden, a career educator, said while standing in an empty classroom. “Across this country, educators, parents, first responders, Americans of all walks of life are putting their shoulders back, fighting for each other. We haven’t given up. We just need leadership worthy of our nation.”
Biden spoke from Brandywine High School in Delaware, where she once taught English, and said she hurt for the students who wouldn‘t be able to attend classes. She touched on the concerns of everyday Americans amid the pandemic and other issues weighing on the country, including the rising costs of health care and higher education.
Rather than spelling out policy proposals that her husband could bring to the White House, Jill Biden enumerated the people whom her husband could help: “For the daughter who convinces her mom to finally get a breast cancer screening and misses work to drive her to the clinic. For the community college student who has faced homelessness and survived abuse — but finds the grit to finish her degree and make a good life for her kids.“
Like Michelle Obama‘s address on Monday, in which the former first lady spoke vulnerably as someone who admitted that “I hate politics,” Biden‘s appearance received wide praise for its candor. Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who had run for his party‘s nomination in 2016, applauded Biden.
“Tonight, Jill Biden did a very good job representing herself and Joe in the causes they believe in,“ Graham tweeted. “She‘s an outstanding person who has led a consequential life.“
At the end of her talk, Joe Biden came out to join his wife and presented her in the title he hoped would soon be hers.
“Just think of your favorite educator who gave you the confidence to believe in yourself,” he said. “That’s the kind of first lady, lady, lady this Jill Biden will be.”
Read more: politico.com