Jill Biden, 69, was a fixture at President Biden's side throughout last week's inaugural activities, sometimes seeming to steady her husband, 78, who turned his ankle last November.
It was a continuation of the assistance she granted him throughout his campaign, where, on many occasions, she physically stopped demonstrators from getting near him, and nearly half a century in politics, first as a senator and then as vice president. Only now, Jill Biden is finding her own feet, rising out of his shadow and that of former first lady Michelle Obama.
Biden was a noticeable second lady. And her eight years partnering with Obama probably better dressed her for the highs and lows of being the first lady than having tea with ex-first lady Melania Trump. The Trumps didn't stretch the traditional invitation throughout the transition period.
Biden's first few days have gone out relatively easily, other than her new press office forgetting to add the video link to her very first event. That was a virtual meeting last Thursday with teachers and teachers' unions to "honor educators." Her team promptly fixed their mistake.
She created positive headlines by making a surprise visit to give National Guard members deployed to D.C. to deliver inauguration cookies. That was before she dropped into Whitman-Walker Health, a gay and HIV-focused community health center, to highlight its work with COVID-19 and cancer subjects.
And after a peaceful weekend that included getting the Biden's German Shepherds settled in the White House, Biden boosted her event clip on Monday. She pre-recorded statements for the American Library Association's 2021 Midwinter Meeting, talked with governors’ spouses, and hosted a “Charla” with young Latinos. She held similar conversations throughout the campaign to promote her husband's appeal among minority voters.
Biden's crowded schedule mimics Trump's after her delayed move to D.C. in June 2017 following the end of son Barron's school year, though before she escaped from the political spotlight for three weeks in May 2018 to heal from an “embolization” procedure to treat a benign kidney condition.
Challenged through the campaign overcharges she plagiarized Obama's 2008 Democratic convention speech, Trump appeared to reestablish her image with a small but effective staff, including eventual White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
Trump was more popular than her divisive husband, though the former model did notch some high-profile snafus. One of them was focusing on cyberbullying, notwithstanding the ex-president's incendiary tweeting habit. Another was wearing a "I Really Don't Care, Do U?" jacket on a tour to a Texas migrant child detention center at the height of the family separation furor.