First Lady Jill Biden is kicking off the summer by headlining campaign events for her husband in New York and California.
With the 2024 presidential election just over a year away, the first lady will make her first solo outing of the campaign season in a three-day series of fundraisers in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles starting Monday.
Most of her time will be spent at four political events, including two in the Bay Area of California, to help her husband’s re-election, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic state party committee.
Biden, 72, will also join Gabrielle Giffords at an event in Los Angeles to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Giffords Law Center, an anti-gun nonprofit headed by the former congresswoman. Giffords was shot in the head in 2011.
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Biden’s events will be his first since a comment at an event Thursday didn’t get the reaction he was hoping for.
“I’ve visited red states and blue states, and I’ve learned that the common values that unite us run deeper than our divisions,” Biden said before pausing for a moment.
When the crowd failed to react enthusiastically, the first lady added: “I thought you might have applauded for that.”
The crowd immediately erupted into applause, drawing widespread comparisons to Jeb Bush’s antics during the 2016 presidential election when he urged the crowd to “please clap.”
Biden, who also works as a community college English professor, urged people at various events last year to prioritize voting in the 2024 presidential election.
“Like many educators, to stay organized, I use to-do lists,” she says. “So this election will be won or lost where voting falls on your to-do list.”
Biden then urged: “Put voting at the top of your to-do list.”
Elizabeth Alexander, a senior campaign adviser who previously served as Jill Biden’s communications director, said the first lady – who identifies herself as “Jill” – is well-liked and will remain a “heavy presence” on the campaign trail.
“As she has been for all of her husband’s presidential campaigns, she will continue to be a formidable presence on the stump,” Alexander said. “His warmth and approachability, combined with his 30-plus years as a classroom teacher, make him an effective messenger on the campaign trail.”
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The first lady has been described as one of her husband’s strongest assets as Democratic consultants and pollsters say voters see him as personable and relatable.
“Some people go to presidential fundraisers because, quote, unquote, it’s necessary,” Bob Mulholland, a Democratic campaign strategist, told The Associated Press. “People go to Jill Biden’s fundraisers because they want to hear from her.”
Mulholland added: “As a teacher, she knows how to listen and single out people who she feels need extra attention or extra conversation.”
Added Steve Westly, a Bay Area venture capitalist who has raised money for Biden in past campaigns: “Everybody who knows this woman loves her.”
He also described Jill Biden as “the most genuine, sunny, warmhearted, kind person you will ever meet. She just exudes that.”
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Republican strategist Doug Heye said that the wives of presidents are generally liked by independent voters. He also suggested he could give the president a layer of protection against criticism while Republicans risk scrutinizing him and then angering people who like him.
“If you’re criticizing the first lady, that can backfire,” Heye said.
The first lady has become a seasoned public speaker over her husband’s decades of public service, and she participated in nearly 40 campaigns and fundraisers in the fall of 2022.
However, his campaigning has occasionally sparked controversy.
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The Biden team came under fire last year after Jill Biden compared Hispanic diversity to the taste of breakfast tacos.
The comment became a meme widely shared by the Republican Party and its supporters.
Earlier this year, he made another off-hand statement when he encouraged the losers of the NCAA women’s basketball final to go to the White House in addition to the winners. The idea was widely criticized and never materialized.
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Jill Biden previously told The Associated Press that her husband is “not done yet” and that he still wants to do more for the American people.
Biden is nine years younger than the president, who will turn 81 in November.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.