WASHINGTON (AP) — At nearly every step of the past year, Jill Biden has delivered a clear message to her supporters as she campaigned for Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterm elections: Put the vote out. on your “to do” list, she would say.
“Like a lot of educators, to stay organized I use to-do lists,” said Biden, a community college English teacher. “So this election is going to be won or lost by where the vote falls on your to-do list.”
“Put voting at the top of your to-do list,” she implored.
This year, the first lady has a new task at the top of her list. Although the 2024 election in which President Joe Biden seeks re-election is more than a year away, helping him win a second term is a top priority for the first lady now that school is out. for summer.
A week after returning from a grueling six-day trip overseas, the first lady is set for her first solo outing of the 2024 campaign season. She leaves Monday for a three-day fundraiser in New York , San Francisco and Los Angeles, with most of his time spent raising money at four political events, including two in the California Bay Area, to benefit the presidential campaign. , the Democratic National Committee, and Democratic state party committees.
Biden will also join Gabrielle Giffords at a separate event in Los Angeles to mark 30 years of work against gun violence by the Giffords Law Center, a nonprofit led by the former congresswoman. Giffords was shot in the head in 2011 at a constituent event in his Arizona district.
As she was in 2020 and the 2022 campaigns, Jill Biden will be active in the 2024 election cycle, helping the Democratic Party build its resources and infrastructure while reminding supporters of what’s at stake.
“As she has been for all of her husband’s presidential campaigns, she will continue to be a formidable presence on the stump,” said senior campaign adviser Elizabeth Alexander. “Her warmth and approachability, combined with her more than 30 years as a teacher, make her an effective messenger on the campaign trail.”
The first lady, who identifies herself simply as “Jill”, is widely regarded by the political establishment as one of her husband’s strongest assets. Democratic consultants and pollsters say people see her as someone they can relate to, perhaps even reminding them of their favorite teacher.
“Some people go to presidential fundraisers because, in quotes, it’s necessary,” said Bob Mulholland, a longtime Democratic campaign strategist. “People go to Jill Biden fundraisers because they want to hear about her.”
“Everyone who meets this woman loves her,” added Steve Westly, a Bay Area venture capitalist who helped raise large sums of money for Biden in 2020.
Westly, who is expected to welcome the president home later in June, said Jill Biden is “the most genuine, sunny, warm, kind person you will ever meet. She just breathes that.
Although the young woman whose future husband told her she would never have to give a political speech has become a seasoned public speaker, she still has the occasional moment of rest. The first lady was criticized, then apologized last year for comparing the diversity of Hispanics to the flavor of breakfast tacos, and earlier this year she sparked a kerfuffle with an offhand remark that the losers of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Finals are expected to come to the White House along with the winners. This idea was rejected outright and soon died.
Republican strategist Doug Heye said he hasn’t really heard Jill Biden’s name come up in conversations on this side of the political aisle.
“First ladies tend not to be ‘capital P’ politicians, which is an advantage for them,” Heye said. “She’s not really in that thought process.”
He said the wives of presidents are generally popular with independent voters and that political parties should be careful not to try to make them targets.
“If you criticize the first lady, it can backfire,” Heye said.
Celinda Lake, who conducts polls for the Democratic Party, said voters “love, love, love” that Biden is still teaching at a community college and hasn’t jumped to a more prestigious private college or university.
“As a teacher, she knows how to listen and distinguish people who she thinks need extra attention or extra conversation,” Mulholland added.
Earlier this year, Jill Biden told The Associated Press in an interview that her husband has more he would like to do for the American people.
“He says he’s not finished,” she said. “He didn’t finish what he started. And that’s what’s important. »
The 72-year-old first lady participated in nearly 40 campaign and fundraising events in the fall of 2022 in more than a dozen states for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. She is nine years younger than the president, who turns 81 in November.
In some cases, she appeared with candidates who were in tight re-election races, taking the place of the president, who was not always welcome. His public reputation was – and remains – below 50%.
She promoted the administration’s achievements and the legislation that Biden was able to push through and enact in his first two years in office despite what were then narrow Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, such as the COVID-19 relief funds to help schools reopen and money for the country’s infrastructure needs. She urged supporters to send more Democrats to Congress, but Republicans ended up winning back the House while Democrats retained the Senate, gaining a seat in that chamber.
The first lady also got personal and started appealing, mostly to women but also to men, after the Supreme Court last June overturned Roe v. Wade of 1973 which established a constitutional right to abortion.
She began telling the story of a high school friend’s struggle to end her pregnancy in the late 1960s, when the procedure was illegal, and how she helped her friend recover.
“How could we go back to that time? she asked.