Jill Biden gave an emotional speech about her husband, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, at the party’s virtual national convention, connecting the personal losses he has endured to his commitment to public service.
“Motherhood came to me in a way I never expected. I fell in love with a man and two little boys standing in the wreckage of unthinkable loss,” Jill Biden said in her remarks Tuesday night, referring to Joe Biden’s grief after losing his first wife and daughter in a car crash in 1972.
“How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole,” Jill Biden, 69, said, speaking of her 77-year-old husband, whom she started dating in 1975. “With love and understanding, and with small acts of compassion, with bravery, with unwavering faith.”
Jill Biden also spoke of the death of Biden’s son Beau to cancer in 2015 and of watching her husband “shave,” “steel himself in the mirror” and go back to work four days after Beau’s funeral.
“That’s just who he is. There are times when I couldn’t imagine how he did it — how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going,” she added. “But I’ve always understood why he did it. ... He does it for you.”
During her video segment Tuesday evening, several others spoke about her, including Joe Biden, who described how Jill helped him through his grief.
“I was 30, I was a senator and I was a widower.… When I met Jill, I fell in love with her when I saw her,” Biden said. “She put us back together, she gave me back my life, she gave us back a family.”
Joe Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, was close friends with Beau, working together as state attorneys general — he in Delaware and she in California. Last week, Harris dedicated part of her first speech after her historic selection for the Biden ticket to Beau’s memory.
After Harris was announced as her husband’s pick, Jill Biden — who was second lady during Barack Obama’s presidency — extended a welcome to Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, who will be the nation’s first second gentleman if the Democratic ticket wins the Nov. 3 election. “Hey @DouglasEmhoff, are you ready?” she tweeted.
Jill Biden, who grew up in the Philadelphia area and has been a decades-long teacher, delivered her convention remarks from a classroom in Brandywine High School in Wilmington, Delaware, where she used to teach English. She remains a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College.
As she spoke Tuesday night, she described the empty school around her — presumably due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The rooms are dark, and the bright young faces that should fill them are confined to boxes on a computer screen,” Jill Biden said, referring to the virtual teaching now taking place at many schools in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The U.S. continues to lead the world in coronavirus cases and deaths, with over 5.4 million confirmed cases and more than 171,000 dead so far.
“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,” Jill Biden added, celebrating educators, parents and first responders who are “fighting for each other” and “haven’t given up.”
“We just need leadership worthy of our nation… to recover from this pandemic and prepare for whatever else is next…. That’s Joe.”