Jill Biden holds the key to the nation’s political future as her husband weighs re-election in 2024

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Jill Biden
First woman Jill Biden.

  • Jill Biden has veto energy over her husband working for reelection in 2024, allies say.
  • But she’s not anticipated to use it. She helps his intention to run.
  • She’s been touting his achievements, hoping he’ll win a “few more partners in Congress” in November.

Political advisors had been in Jill Biden’s front room for hours, making an attempt to persuade her husband to run for president, whereas she sat by the pool, “fuming.”

She and Joe Biden, then a senator, had already determined in opposition to a second presidential bid in 2004. She had “forbidden any campaign talk.”

And then, her mood acquired the better of her.

“A Sharpie caught my eye,” she wrote in her memoir “Where The Light Enters.” “I drew NO on my stomach in big letters, and marched through the room in my bikini.

“Needless to say, they acquired the message,” she continued.

Twenty years later, the first lady still holds the power of “NO” when it comes to her husband’s political aspirations. 

She wields this influence as her family endures enormous scrutiny over their son Hunter dealing with doable legal prices and questions on Joe Biden’s mental acuity as he approaches his 80th birthday

That method has been decidedly rocky. In current weeks, Joe Biden called out for Rep. Jackie Walorski — she is lifeless — at a public occasion and mispronounced the name of the United Kingdom’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

When asked last week if his wife backs him running, the president’s awkward, lengthy pause, prompting a nudge from MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart — “Mr. President?” — only added to Republican criticism online, with GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel calling the exchange “scary.”

The president ultimately said his wife thinks “that we’re doing one thing essential, and that I should not stroll away from it.” He has his “intention” is to run in 2024. The president has not, however, made a formal decision and has not officially filed re-election campaign paperwork that would trigger various federal requirements, such as adhering to fundraising limits and disclosing campaign income and expenditures.

Jill Biden, for her part, isn’t expected break out the Sharpie again, at least anytime soon. Evidence of her support for her husband’s presidency can be found all over the midterm elections campaign trail. Between writing classes she teaches at Northern Virginia Community College, she has been zig-zagging across the country for campaign events and fundraisers, raising millions of dollars for Democrats and touting Biden’s achievements in office, from gun safety legislation to prescription drug affordability.

“Just think about what he might do with a couple of extra companions in Congress,” she said at a recent fundraiser in Nashville.

Jill Biden’s advice will be the primary advice Joe Biden will rely on as he makes that decision, said South Carolina Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a former state party chairman and member of the Biden 2020 finance committee.

“Joe Biden would not have run in ’20 if Jill Biden had not needed him to run and he will not run in ’24 if Jill Biden would not need him to run,” he told Insider.

Former US Sen. Ted Kaufman, Biden’s longtime chief of staff in the Senate, called Jill Biden “a full accomplice” and “somebody he turns to” in his determination making.

The couple, Jill Biden said this month on NBC’s Today present, has been “just a little bit too busy” to discuss 2024, but she affirmed her support.

“I’m certain it will likely be a dialogue,” Jill Biden said. “Look in any respect Joe has executed. He has saved true to what he stated he would do, and so I believe he simply wants to maintain going.”

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U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch fireworks go off on national mall from the White House on July 04, 2022 in Washington, DC. U.S.
President Joe Biden and first woman Jill Biden watch fireworks go off on nationwide mall from the White House on July 4, 2022, in Washington, DC.

‘That’s ridiculous’

The Bidens’ 45-year marriage is the second for both. The president lost his first wife and daughter in a 1972 car crash. Jill Biden divorced her first husband after five years and married Joe Biden two years later. Together, they have one biological daughter, Ashley, and they raised the president’s two sons, Hunter and Beau, who died from brain cancer in 2015.

She doesn’t think of herself as an advisor to her husband.

“I hear to him, he listens to me. It’s a wedding,” she said on CBS.

She has been married to Joe Biden since 1977 and she fiercely defends her family. For all of Joe Biden’s official, gun-toting security, Jill Biden became known as her husband’s bouncer during the 2020 campaign after twice helping to eject protesters from rallies. 

When her husband held a nearly two-hour news conference in January, she was the one asking his aides why no one tried to stop it, the New York Times reported

Asked on CBS about polls that show Americans have considerations about Joe Biden’s psychological health, she shook her head in exasperation.

“I believe that is ridiculous,” she said.

She also dismissed questions from NBC about their son, Hunter, who is under federal investigation for possible tax crimes and a false statement on a gun application and who has long been a target of Republican congressional scrutiny.

“Everybody and their brother has investigated Hunter,” she told NBC. “They maintain at it, and at it, and at it. I do know that Hunter is harmless. I really like my son, and I’ll maintain trying ahead.”

‘First lady of the moment’

Jill Biden is a professor who grades tough, a “Philly woman” who is stoked about the World Series, and a fitness buff who squeezes barre and cycle classes into her travel schedule. She is also a known prankster, who once stuffed herself inside an overhead bin on Air Force Two to give someone a scare and who posed last year as a flight attendant named “Jasmine” to trick reporters on April Fool’s Day.

What she isn’t, is a born politico. She’s a self-described introvert married to an extrovert and she says in her memoir that she was “by no means a pure as a ‘political partner.'” She forced herself through discomfort before feeling she was “getting the dangle of this political spouse factor.”

Becoming first lady was also a challenge.

“I had to be, with all that was occurring, First Lady of the second,” she said at a July fundraiser.

But her stamp on the role is groundbreaking as the first president’s wife to continue her professional career as first lady. She loves being known two days out of the week as simply “Dr. B,” the students’ English professor, she often says. “Of course you need to” continue teaching, her husband told her after the 2008 election, she wrote.

Jill Biden
First lady Jill Biden tours a classroom at the James Rushton Early Learning Center in Birmingham, Alabama, on April 9, 2021.

Jill Biden came into her role as first lady with a focus on issues she worked on during her eight years as second lady — education, helping military families, and fighting cancer after their son Beau died at age 46. 

She’s a natural envoy to the teachers unions who supported her husband’s 2020 campaign, particularly given that Jill Biden herself is a member of the largest one. Teaching gives her a “hyperlink to the actual world” outside the bubble of the White House, said Michael LaRosa, her former press secretary. Events are scheduled around her teaching two days a week and she grades papers on the plane.

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On World Teachers’ Day this month, Jill Biden spoke on The Kelly Clarkson Show about visiting Uvalde, Texas, where 19 elementary schoolers and two teachers were killed in a school shooting.

“Having misplaced a toddler, myself … it was simply devastating,” she said. “We’ve acquired to do extra. We should ban assault weapons.”

She also told teachers in the audience: “I stated to my college students, you will have to have a plan in your head if there’s an lively shooter on campus.”

‘Dig a little deeper’

Jill Biden has built up her political voice over the years – all in her unmistakable accent from the Philadelphia suburbs.

“You know you are listening to actual America while you hear her pronounce the phrase ‘espresso,'” LaRosa said. 

She has been working to mobilize women at recent events with a midterm elections message focusing on her husband’s accomplishments and her personal experience growing up in an era before Roe v. Wade, the landmark case guaranteeing abortion rights that the Supreme Court struck down in June. 

Jill Biden tells the audience of friend who could only get an abortion in the pre-Roe days by being declared mentally unfit. 

“We won’t let some radical Republican agenda be the legacy we depart for our daughters and granddaughters,” she said at an event in San Francisco.

At fundraising events, she has asked donors to “dig just a little deeper, give just a little bit extra.” 

She has participated in 10 fundraising events for the Democratic National Committee and her events, emails, texts, and direct mail have brought in millions for Democrats up and down the ticket, according to a DNC spokesperson.

In the past month, she’s appeared at campaign events with Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Florida US Senate candidate Val Demings and Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist. She went to Rhode Island on Wednesday and is headed on Saturday to New Hampshire for political events with Sen. Maggie Hassan and the state Democratic Party.

“Jill Biden is a very huge draw,” said a Murray campaign spokesperson. The campaign raised “effectively over six figures” at their event with her. 

She talks to people across the country and exchanges information with her husband, Kaufman said. “That’s the method the partnership works,” he said. “She’s simply an unimaginable surrogate for him” and her impact will be “intensive” during the midterms.

Jill Biden Val Demings Charlie Crist
First lady Jill Biden attends a rally for Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat from Florida, and Florida gubernatorial candidate Rep. Charlie Crist, also a Florida Democrat, on October 15, 2022, in Orlando, Florida.

‘A vital image’

Jill Biden’s support of her husband’s political future hasn’t always gone smoothly. Her office issued an apology once after she pointed to “bodegas” — which she mispronounced — and “breakfast tacos” to laud Latino diversity. She has been trying to learn Spanish in recent years as a way to connect with Spanish-speaking students at her community college and she’s taking classes online.

Her favorability rating, in limited polling on her, was only slightly positive — 34% favorable, 29% unfavorable and 37% unsure, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS between June and July.

Former first lady Michelle Obama — Gallup’s reigning “Most Admired Woman” — continues to overshadow Jill Biden in many respects, together with periodic mentions in punditry and polls alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a potential 2024 Democratic presidential nominee if Joe Biden decides to forego re-election.

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake suggested that Jill Biden’s rating was reflective of her husband’s popularity and not specific to her. People sometimes bring up Jill Biden and say positive things about her during focus group discussions on Democrats, Lake said. They like that she continues teaching, that she’s in touch with real people and that she can speak to her husband’s character.

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“We’re not in need of adverse arguments,” Lake said. “What we want to do is have the option to convey to girls voters, in explicit, who’re swamped with their lives, a way that ‘we’re getting issues executed for you, we get your life’ and he or she’s actually good on that.”

At 71, Jill Biden is more than eight years younger than her husband and projects a “very important picture” that is “helpful to the Biden model,” especially if the criticism of her husband is that his public speaking style seems “gradual and old-mannish,” said Ohio University professor Katherine Jellison, who studies first ladies. 

With midterm early voting already underway in many states, Joe Biden needs whatever help he can get. A sitting president’s party typically performs badly during midterm elections. While Democrats today control both the House and Senate, Republicans are favored to win the House, and they have a shot at controlling the Senate. More Republicans in Congress will only further hamper Biden’s agenda during the last two years of his term, giving him less to run on in 2024.

A Republican-controlled House, specifically, would also almost certainly launch investigations into Hunter Biden and various aspects of the Biden administration. Some House Republicans are also itching to impeach Joe Biden, and regardless of the reasons offered, there’d be little stopping them except themselves.  

Jill Biden has stressed the high stakes of this election. Getting out on the campaign trail now will also allow her to test strategies or topics that she can use for a potential 2024 campaign.

 “This is a key second for her,” Jellison stated.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden wear matching blue outfits
President Joe Biden and first woman Jill Biden arrive at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on May 18, 2022.

‘It may be his name on the ticket, but …’

When Jill Biden wanted her husband to run for president in 2008, she organized a family meeting, stood up to drive home her point, and said, “it is time. You have to run,” she wrote. 

In 2020, Joe Biden told his friend Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware that his wife wanted him to run even more than he did, Carper recalled in an interview with Insider. She later, during a fundraiser, described that election against Donald Trump as “a selection between good and evil.”

Biden isn’t expected to make a firm decision on running in 2024 until after the midterm elections, and likely, early next year. 

The first lady wrote in her memoir that her husband “all the time understood {that a} public life was his selection, not mine,” so the family decides together on his campaigns.

“It could also be his title on the ticket, however all of us — me, the children, and now the grandkids—have to speak to reporters, present up at rallies, and take care of the scrutiny,” she wrote.

LaRosa said the first lady is traveling the country and the world now to support her husband because she believes in what he’s doing.

But does she truly want him to run again? Will she use her power of “NO” if she believes the notion of occupying the White House till 2029 — nearly 60 years after Joe Biden first entered elected politics — is simply an excessive amount of?

“She will all the time be supportive of what he needs, and also you begin from there,” LaRosa said.

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