Jill Biden took a virtual swing through Pennsylvania on Tuesday, highlighting her ties to the Philadelphia region while engaging in a strange new campaign normal: politicking via Zoom.
Biden visited two Pittsburgh classrooms — or rather, she joined a video conference call with about 20 students who attend Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy, chatting about how to stay focused and connected during the pandemic.
“I’m using COVID to learn Spanish,” Biden told a class of high school Spanish students. “I’m drinking coffee out of my taza.”
Later, Biden called a Guatemalan restaurant owner in Philadelphia, who took the call while her kitchen staff prepared orange chicken, rice, and beans to deliver to medical workers at the University of Pennsylvania.
“I’ve heard great things about your churros,” Biden told her.
Biden, who has been a constant presence on the campaign trail, virtually visited Pennsylvania after a similar series of visits last week in Michigan and Florida with her husband, Joe, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. The campaign has tried to feature more events tied to geography to give the sense of a traveling campaign while the Bidens are stuck in their Delaware home. It’s also an opportunity to connect with voters —and get into media markets — in swing states.
Biden was born in Hammonton, N.J., and raised in Willow Grove. She got a master’s degree in English from Villanova University and has lived most of her life about an hour away, in Delaware. She’s also a Philadelphia sports fan who evoked the city’s gritty spirit after she twice stepped between a charging protester and her husband at campaign events.
In February, she shrugged off an incident in which she shoved a shouting heckler off the stage in New Hampshire, telling reporters, “I’m a good Philly girl.”
In March, she again intervened when a protester rushed the stage. Her husband later joked, “Whoa, you don’t screw around with a Philly girl, I’ll tell you what.”
On Tuesday, Jill Biden talked about growing up outside of Philadelphia with Sofia Deleon, owner of El Merkury restaurant, who took the call at a table in her empty restaurant at 20th and Chestnut Streets. A news truck filmed the call from behind the restaurant window and about 20 reporters and Biden staff listened in on mute to the call.
“It’s one very — I would say open-minded city," said Deleon. “It’s very community-oriented. People are very supportive of local businesses.”
“Philadelphia has such heart,” Biden added. “And I love the different neighborhoods. There’s so much to love there.”
There was no talk of politics — which Deleon appreciated. While she said in an interview that she’s not a fan of President Donald Trump, she likes to keep the restaurant, which she opened two years ago to show off Central American cuisine, a neutral space. She said she has no idea how the Biden campaign, headquartered a few blocks from the restaurant, found her, but Jill Biden said she’d be returning in person.
Biden had earlier promised to visit the students in Pittsburgh. The list of places to return to in real life grows with each virtual event.
“All right, I’ll see you in Philly,” Biden said. "Take care. Be healthy and be safe.”