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Likening the nation under Trump to a broken family, Jill Biden speaks to the Democratic convention

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VIDEO | 10:04
Jill Biden likens the nation under Trump to a broken family

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, closed out Tuesday night’s session of the Democratic National Convention.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, closed out Tuesday night’s session of the Democratic National Convention by likening America to a home that’s been shattered by loss, like the Bidens’ has been.

“How do you make a broken family whole?” Jill Biden said in a video appearance from a classroom at Brandywine High School in Wilmington, Del., where she once taught English. “The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding, and with small acts of kindness, with bravery, with unwavering faith.”

The classroom where she spoke was empty, like many across the nation. Biden cited the schools closed by the coronavirus pandemic and parents laboring to help their children learn remotely at home, a great burden on many American families.

“As a mother and a grandmother, and an American, I am heartbroken by the magnitude of this loss, by the failure to protect our communities,” she said. “Like so many of you, I am left asking, how can I keep my family safe?”

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In an appeal to win support for her husband, who was formally nominated Tuesday, Biden said: “Yes, so, many classrooms are quiet right now. The playgrounds are still. But if you listen closely, you can hear the sparks of change in the air. Across this country, educators, parents, first responders, Americans of all walks of life are putting their shoulders back, fighting for each other. We haven’t given up, we just need leadership worthy of our nation, worthy of you.”

This is Jill Biden’s biggest stage yet, but she is no stranger to life around the White House, having served as second lady when her husband was vice president during the Obama administration.

Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden grew up in Willow Grove, Pa., the oldest of four sisters raised by a homemaker mother and a banker father, as The Times reported in a 2008 profile.

Jill and Joe Biden met on a blind date arranged by Joe’s brother in 1975, and the pair wed in 1977. (It reportedly took Joe five tries before Jill said yes.) The Bidens have been married 43 years. Joe Biden’s first wife and infant daughter died in a car crash in 1972.

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In addition to the two surviving sons Joe Biden had from his previous marriage, Beau and Hunter, the pair had a daughter together, Ashley.

Jill Biden is a career educator, having taught in high school and also at the Delaware Technical and Community College. As her husband’s career soared, she drew a reputation for having a reluctant attitude toward the spotlight. She taught for all eight years of her husband’s time as vice president.

School reopenings amid the coronavirus crisis have put education policy in the spotlight, but that’s just one area where Trump and Biden disagree.

But she has become a prominent public supporter of her husband during his first successful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, appearing in virtual events in more than 17 cities since May, according to the Associated Press.

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She has also joined in her husband’s familial tragedy, when Beau Biden, who had become the attorney general of Delaware, died of brain cancer in 2015.

“I wondered if I would ever smile or feel joy again,” Jill Biden said of Beau’s death. “It was summer, but there was no warmth left for me. Four days after Beau’s funeral, I watched Joe shave and put on his suit, 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’s just who he is. There are times where I couldn’t even imagine how he did it.”

He’s guided by his faith, Jill Biden said. “I know 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, carry us forward in our time of need.”

After she finished her speech, Joe Biden came on camera and said, “You can see why she’s the love of my life and the rock of my family.”


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