The First Lady helps save her husband’s campaign. Will it be enough? | Washington

The First Lady helps save her husband’s campaign. Will it be enough? | Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) — While campaigning for her husband in Florida, Jill Biden took a break to drink tea.

She was on the second stop of a three-state tour, and the reporters traveling with her had tried several times to get her to talk, curious to hear what she would say to Democrats who were so unsettled by President Joe Biden’s poor debate performance that they called on him to drop his re-election bid.

As she left a cafe after sharing hibiscus tea with the mayor of Tampa, the First Lady paused on the way to her vehicle and turned to reporters who were firing questions at her.

“Why are you yelling at me? You know me,” she said, adding, “Don’t yell at me. Just talk.”

She walked away without answering their questions.

The public has gotten to know Jill Biden well in her three-plus years as first lady, who is at home in many roles. Now she is trying to help her husband save his presidential campaign, coming under scrutiny from critics who portray her as a power-hungry wife who is pushing her old husband to run again so she can maintain her lifestyle in the White House.

In addition, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has begun attacking the first lady. At a rally in Florida this week, he claimed without evidence that she and the president’s son, Hunter Biden, are actually the ones running the country.

This week, the president’s wife of 47 years embarked on a three-state tour to promote the Biden administration’s support for the military. She is also fulfilling a more traditional role as the nation’s hostess, welcoming NATO leaders and their spouses to the alliance’s 75th anniversary summit. She and Hunter Biden are considered two of the people Biden listens to most closely, and both have encouraged the president to stay in the race.

Weeks before the debate, the public also saw Jill Biden in her role as matriarch of the family, sitting behind Hunter in federal court in Delaware as he was charged and convicted of a weapons offense.

Elizabeth Alexander, the first lady’s communications director, said Jill Biden’s most important role is that of the president’s wife, not one of his many political advisers.

“As much as a married couple makes decisions together that affect their lives, they certainly do that, but as she has said more times than I can count, politics is his profession,” Alexander wrote in an email. “She is his biggest supporter and champion because she believes in him and she fears for the future of our country if things turn out differently. Just as he has always supported her career, she supports his.”

Alexander said most women, including first ladies, find it difficult to show their support but not so much that their motives are questioned. They speak out but not too loudly, and they perform their duties well but without making a big fuss. Otherwise they risk being accused of being too ambitious or aggressive.

“Society has placed all First Ladies, including Dr. Biden, in an impossible position, especially given today’s social media, bots and right-wing machinery that fuel narratives and invent false caricatures at every turn,” Alexander said.

Jill Biden stayed close to her husband’s side during the post-debate drama, campaigning with him in North Carolina, New York and New Jersey. She interrupted the campaign break for a solo campaign before reuniting with him at the White House on July 4.

On Monday, she represented him again on a tour of North Carolina, Florida and Georgia. The goal of the tour was to mobilize support from veterans and military families, but it was also part of the Biden team’s broader effort to turn the discussion back to Trump.

She told the crowd that she supported Biden’s decision to stay in the race.

“Despite all the rumors about this race, Joe has made it clear that he is fully committed,” she said at all three stops. “That’s the decision he made. And just as he has always supported my career, I am fully committed. I know you are too, otherwise you wouldn’t be here today.”

Jill Biden is the first First Lady to work outside the White House. She is a professor of English and writing at Northern Virginia Community College, where she has taught since 2009.

On Tuesday, the First Lady was back at the White House, hosting NATO heads of state and government and their spouses for the annual summit. On Wednesday, she organized a brunch for the couples at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and in the evening she was with the President to welcome the couples to a dinner at the White House.

Nevertheless, Jill Biden took on another role this week: she was a fashion consultant.

At the end of the brunch with NATO partners, she gave them advice for their visit on Thursday to the presidential palace Camp David in the Catoctin Mountains in Maryland.

“Please dress comfortably,” she said. “Don’t wear those high heels because you’re going to be getting into helicopters… so please just wear flats or sneakers. Just be comfortable.”