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Jill Biden Is A Very Busy First Lady.
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Jill Biden Is A Very Busy First Lady.

PHOENIX (AP) — Jill Biden didn't take it easy on the four-hour flight back to Washington after a hectic two-day tour of Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix to promote COVID-19 vaccinations.

She was preparing for more travel in a week that demonstrated the wide range of missions and emotions associated with the first lady's movements around the country.

This week, Biden went from clinking glasses of beer with Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, at an Astros baseball game in Houston to joining the president in Florida to console families whose loved ones were killed or went missing in the Surfside condo collapse.

Along the way, she continued the juggling act that comes with being the first first lady to continue her career outside the White House, setting aside an hour in Texas to Zoom into a book club meeting with women at the community college where she teaches English in Virginia.

Jill Biden is traveling at the same speed as the president.

She pushed vaccinations in Mississippi and Tennessee a week before her stops in Texas and Arizona, and again in the Florida cities of Kissimmee and Tampa a few days later.

Her appearance at the Astros game was intended to highlight Major League Baseball's vaccination campaign, which includes incentives such as game tickets and a replica World Series ring.

“It is safe, effective, and free,” she said of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Jill Biden will spend the majority of the Fourth of July weekend in Maine, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, attending events commemorating progress against the coronavirus.

“I think we knew right away that she was going to be a more active first lady,” said Myra Gutin, a first lady expert at Rider University in New Jersey. “She just strikes me as somebody who wants to be busy and somebody who wants to help.”

Jill Biden has stated that she does not want to waste a single minute of her time as first lady, and she has logged more miles than some of her predecessors have at this point in their husbands' administrations, according to Gutin.

Laura Bush, a former elementary school teacher and librarian, spent her first months as first lady planning an education summit at Georgetown University in July 2001 and advocating for the No Child Left Behind education law, the new administration's first major domestic policy initiative.

Melania Trump lived at Trump Tower in Manhattan until son Barron finished the school year, and they joined President Donald Trump at the White House in June 2017.

Jill Biden came to the role well-prepared, according to Anita McBride, a first lady scholar at American University, because she had spent most of her adult life in the public eye. Joe Biden was already a U.S. senator when they married, and he served in Congress for 36 years, followed by eight years as vice president.

Unlike Michelle Obama and Melania Trump, Jill Biden, 70, does not have any young children to occupy her time, and she enjoys traveling and staying busy.

The president is well aware of how busy his wife of 44 years is these days, and he has even suggested that the accelerated pace of White House life has reduced their "romantic time."

“She’s been traveling all over the country. And doing major events for me... and for the country,” the president told Vogue in a recent profile of his wife. “And so I’ll find that I’m working on a hell of an important speech and I’m distracted, and then I may not be working on one and I want to go and hang out with her, and she’s working on an important speech! Or grading papers.”


“We have to figure out a way, and I mean this sincerely,” he said.

McBride, Laura Bush's chief of staff, stated that while it is important for presidents to leave Washington and spend time with the people, they can face criticism if they are perceived as spending too much time traveling and not enough time taking care of the people's business.

“It’s a delicate balance for presidents to do both, and it’s a huge asset when the first lady can help,” McBride wrote in an email.

To that end, Jill Biden has become a leading advocate for her husband's policies as well as her own issues and causes, which range from child tax credits and a proposal for free community college to support for military families and the search for a cure for cancer.

By Sunday, she will have taken 20 solo official plane or car trips outside of Washington, including a handful of overnighters on the West Coast and in the Southwest, not including her local stops in Washington or trips with the president, such as last week's stop in Surfside, where she laid a large bouquet of white irises on the curb of a makeshift memorial near the site of the columbine.

Meanwhile, the president's trip to Michigan on Saturday will be his 21st aboard Air Force One for official business, including last month's trip to Europe. The count does not include Biden's weekends at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, or at the Camp David presidential retreat, as well as a midweek getaway to his hoe in June.

The first lady has stated that she will continue to travel across the country to encourage people, particularly young people, to get vaccinated in order to help combat COVID-19.

In Texas and Arizona, the first lady tried to dispel myths about vaccines, assuring people that the doses are safe, effective, and have been thoroughly tested. She also emphasized that the jabs are free, that people can get free rides to clinics, and that appointments aren't required. She also stated that the shot itself is so quick that it doesn't hurt, and that she was vaccinated despite her opposition.

She made small talk with a girl while an alcohol pad was rubbed on her arm in preparation for the COVID-19 shot at a clinic in a Phoenix neighborhood where vaccination rates are low.

The vaccinator then inserted the needle and pulled it out of the girl's arm.

“It’s over,” Biden exclaimed before moving on.

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