Jill Biden told Americans on Tuesday that her husband can heal a hurting nation in the same way he’s made his family “whole” after multiple tragedies.
“How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole,” Biden said during the second night of the Democratic convention. “With love and understanding — and with small acts of kindness. With bravery. With unwavering faith. You show up for each other, in big ways and small ones, again and again. It’s what so many of you are doing right now.”
Born in Hammonton, N.J., and raised in Willow Grove, Pa., Biden’s local roots were on display Tuesday as she took her biggest turn in the political spotlight. A tribute video showed photos of her growing up in the Philadelphia suburb as her younger sisters recalled her grit. She once knocked on the door of a bully who’d been going after her sister and punched him squarely in the face.
While Jill Biden was involved with her husband’s previous campaigns, she’s been the most present this time — traveling the country, and, during the coronavirus pandemic, juggling half-a-dozen Zoom calls a day.
Biden, who kept her job teaching at a Wilmington community college while serving as Second Lady during the Obama administration, delivered her speech from her former classroom in Delaware at Brandywine High School. She has said she would return to teaching at community college even if her husband wins.
Biden opened her speech by noting the sad eeriness of the silent classrooms, left empty by the pandemic.
“There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors. The rooms are dark, as the bright young faces that should fill them are now confined to boxes on a computer screen,” she said, adding later Joe Biden would bring back “laughter and possibility” to those rooms.
Jill Biden is a graduate of Upper Moreland High School, West Chester University, Villanova, and the University of Delaware, where she received her doctorate in education.
In the days leading up to her speech, Biden posted images to Instagram and Twitter of her from when she first met Joe Biden in the late 1970s on a first date at a movie in Philadelphia. “As I prepare to speak at the Democratic National Convention this week, it’s hard not to think about where I came from,” she wrote. “I’ll always be that girl from Philly.
In May, Jill Biden did a virtual tour of the state, chatting over Zoom with teachers in Pittsburgh and then a small business owner in Philadelphia.
Earlier in the campaign, she famously straight-armed a protester who came charging at her husband.
She later told reporters, “I’m a good Philly girl.”
Jill Biden has long embraced the city’s sports teams. She talks about growing up watching the Phillies with her dad, and she recently hosted a fundraiser with former Dallas Cowboys star Emmitt Smith — to which she wore an Eagles shirt and engaged in friendly trash talk.
Jill Biden, 69, married the the future vice president in 1977, more than four years after his first wife and young daughter were killed in a car accident. She helped raise his surviving sons, Beau and Hunter, before giving birth to daughter Ashley in 1981.