Jill Biden made an emotional case for her husband, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, as the ideal candidate to unite a country torn apart by racial divisions and suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic, during her keynote address at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday evening.
Mrs. Biden’s live address came after a poignant video documenting her relationship with the Democratic nominee. She met her future husband several years after the death of his daughter Naomi and first wife, Neilia, in a car accident in 1972 just weeks after Biden won his first election to the U.S. Senate.
In her speech on the second night of the Democratic convention, Biden also recounted another tragedy the family faced: the 2015 death of former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Joe’s oldest son.
"Four days after Beau's funeral, I watched Joe shave and put on his suit,” said Biden from an empty classroom in a Delaware elementary school where she used to teach.
“I saw him steel himself in the mirror, take a breath, put his shoulders back, and walk out into a world empty of our son. He went back to work."
That resilience — that ability to stitch their lives back together, she argued — is what makes her husband the best person to help the hundreds of thousands who are dealing with the loss of loved ones since the pandemic began.
"How do you make a broken nation whole?” she asked. “The same way you make a broken family whole. With love and understanding. And with small acts of kindness. With bravery and faith.”
Biden continued: "Joe’s purpose has always driven him forward. His strength of will is unstoppable. And his faith is unshakable — because it’s not in politicians or political parties — or even himself. It’s in the providence of God. His faith is in you — in us."
The former second lady is a professor at Northern Virginia Community College and previously taught at Delaware Technical Community College. She holds a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware, and after her husband was elected vice president, she became a well-known advocate for community colleges.
She helped chair the first community college summit with then-President Obama in 2010 and, two years later, toured the country to help promote a pipeline program from local colleges into the job market. Biden also focused on breast cancer prevention while continuing to teach students.
Biden has joined her husband on the campaign trail and was one of the most visible of the candidates’ spouses during the Democratic primary. If her husband is elected in the fall, she says she plans to return to teaching college students in addition to her responsibilities as first lady.
"I want people to value teachers and know their contributions and to lift up the profession,” said Biden during an interview with CBS News earlier this month.
In her speech Tuesday, Mrs. Biden noted that most of the country is still struggling to decide whether to open schools this fall as the virus continues its deadly march across the country.
"So many classrooms are quiet right now,” continued Biden in her address. “The playgrounds are still. But if you listen closely you can hear the sparks of change in the air … we just need leadership worthy of our nation, worthy of you."
Biden did not mention President Trump by name. Instead, she focused on her husband’s character, promising voters that he would be a uniter-in-chief.
“The burdens we carry are heavy. And we need someone with strong shoulders. I know that if we entrust this nation to Joe, he will do for your family what he did for ours — bring us together and make us whole.”
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