Bulletin
Investor Alert

Associated Press Archives | Email alerts

Jan. 19, 2022, 3:25 p.m. EST

First lady looks ahead to second year of Biden presidency: ‘It’s going to be an exciting year. It’s got to be a better year with the pandemic.’

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

Associated Press

1 2

Key Words (June 2021): First lady Jill Biden graces Vogue cover: ‘I will never waste this platform’

“The pandemic really did not constrain her a great deal and she was able to move forward and do all of these things: teach and advocate for people to get vaccinated and make some visits to military installations and cancer centers,” said Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University who writes about first ladies. “That’s pretty major.”

At vaccination sites, Jill Biden encouraged people to get protected and held hands with both grown-ups and kids getting their jabs. At schools, she toured classrooms and spoke with students about writing in journals to help them cope during the pandemic. At military bases, she thanked military spouses and other family members for sacrificing alongside their loved ones in uniform.

On the policy front, Joining Forces, the first lady’s White House initiative to support military families, and the National Security Council last year announced a first round of administration commitments to help military spouses with employment, child care and other matters.

But she suffered a policy defeat when the president dropped a proposal for tuition-free community college — something she has spent years advocating for — from a sweeping social welfare and climate change bill after some key Democratic senators objected to the size of the package.

Other presidents’ wives also have played the role of national healer. Katherine Jellison, a history professor at Ohio University who studies first ladies, recalled the actions of Lucy Webb Hayes after the Civil War and during Reconstruction.

Hayes, wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes, showcased American plants and wildlife, “something that Americans from all regions could get behind,” by having them depicted on White House china, Jellison said. Hayes also invited representatives from states that were on opposite sides of the Civil War to social events.

“She worked hard to unify the country in a variety of interesting ways,” Jellison said.Besides her role as healer, Jill Biden also fulfilled the traditional first lady function of representing the United States abroad.

She flew off on one solo foreign trip, to Tokyo to root for U.S. athletes at the delayed 2020 Olympic Games. She also accompanied the president on overseas trips to England and Rome.

Her husband’s inauguration, coming after his two earlier failed attempts at the presidency, “just took my breath away,” Jill Biden recalled.

For her, the White House “is a magical place.” When she wakes up, she thinks, “Wow, look where I am.” But she also feels there’s a lot of work to do in the country and, because of that, she can’t “get my coffee and sit in bed and watch the news.”

“I’ve always said that if I were ever given this platform I would never waste it. Not one day,” the first lady said. “That’s why when I wake every day I think, ‘What can I do today? … What am I doing? Where am I going? What’s the strategy? What’s the plan?’ “

Her plans for 2022 include keeping her focus on education, military families and doing more work promoting cancer research. She will continue to teach.

“But then I want to layer some other things on,” Jill Biden added, describing her desire to bring art and artists to the White House and her hope that the pandemic will recede enough to allow the White House to reopen to tourists and more socializing.

“It’s going to be an exciting year. It’s got to be a better year with the pandemic,” the first lady said. “I mean everybody, I think everybody across this country is saying, ‘Come on, it’s got to be a better year.’ “

1 2
This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Economy & Politics

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »

Partner Center

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.