WASHINGTON, -- Jill Biden spoke openly Wednesday about her challenges as first lady, and the unanticipated scrutiny she has faced in a role she never expected to have when she was younger.
Biden spoke at an event for Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, Kennedy Center. She paid tribute to Barbara Bush, the first lady, from 1989 to 1993. She also noted her ability to manage controversy with grace.
Biden stated that she had learned a similar lesson. "There are times when you have to step up even though it is uncomfortable,"
Biden recalled how she had visited 32 states in the course of her administration's vaccination campaign. She also mentioned that she is their first lady.
"There have been moments when I have been met with anger and hurt. Biden stated that the common values that unify us go deeper than our differences. "I have seen how a kind word, or gesture, can ease someone's shoulders a little bit. It can allow them to listen to your thoughts even though we may never agree."
Biden was a prominent surrogate for the Obama administration. She has traveled extensively outside of Washington, sometimes with President Joe Biden to promote vaccinations. She is a teacher and visits schools often to promote the proposed education investments of the administration.
Before becoming first lady, Mrs. Bush had been vice president's wife, just like Jill Biden.
Biden isn't new to the surrogate role. During her husband's tenure as vice president, she advocated for military families and was an active campaigner during Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. She said that even though she was the vice president's spouse, she had never been to the White House and that "there's no way that can prepare you for being first lady."
"We don't get elected. We have to decide for ourselves what this role is. She said that we have been thrust into the national spotlight in a manner that none of us could have predicted.
Biden recalled a moment when scrutiny struck home. She went to a bakery for Valentine's Day cupcakes. To her surprise, her decision not to wear her hair down made national news.
"Everything you say or do carries more weight as first lady." She said that while it can be daunting at times, it's what makes the role so unique."
Biden also talked about her amazement and awe at being in such a powerful position after spending her childhood "watching Phillies baseball games" and "waitressing at Jersey Shore to earn money for college."
"I couldn't have imagined the path that my life would lead me to." She said that one day she would make dinner on the China Bess Truman chose so many years ago. Or "wake up, just around priceless pieces history."