First lady Jill Biden is kicking off the summer by headlining campaign events for her husband in New York and California.
While the 2024 presidential election is more than a year away, the first lady will be conducting her first solo outings of the campaign season during a three-day fundraising series in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles beginning Monday.
Most of her time will be spent at four political events, including two in California’s Bay Area, to help her husband’s re-election, the Democratic National Committee and Democratic state party committees.
Biden, 72, will also join Gabrielle Giffords at an event in Los Angeles to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Giffords Law Center, an anti-gun nonprofit led by the former congresswoman. Giffords was shot in the head in 2011.
Biden’s events will be her first since a comment during an event Thursday didn’t get the reaction she was expecting.
‘I’ve visited red states and blue states, and I’ve found that the common values that unite us are deeper than our divisions,’ Biden said before taking a moment to pause.
When the crowd failed to react enthusiastically, the first lady added: ‘I thought you might clap for that.’
The crowd promptly clapped, earning wide comparison to Jeb Bush’s gaffe in the 2016 presidential election when he urged a crowd to ‘please clap.’
Biden, who also works as a community college English professor, urged people at various events last year to prioritize voting in the 2024 presidential election.
‘Like a lot of educators, to stay organized, I use to-do lists,’ she said. ‘So this election is going to be won or lost by where voting falls on your to-do list.’
Biden would then urge: ‘Put voting at the top of your to-do list.’
Elizabeth Alexander, a senior campaign adviser who previously served as Jill Biden’s communications director, said the first lady – who introduces herself simply as ‘Jill’ – is well-liked and would remain a ‘formidable presence’ on the campaign trail.
‘As she has been for all her husband’s presidential campaigns, she will continue to be a formidable presence on the stump,’ Alexander said. ‘Her warmth and approachability, combined with her 30-plus years as a classroom teacher, make her an effective messenger on the campaign trail.’
The first lady has been described as one of her husband’s strongest assets as Democratic consultants and pollsters say voters see her as kind and relatable.
‘Some people go to presidential fundraisers because, quote, unquote, it’s necessary,’ Bob Mulholland, a Democratic campaign strategist, told The Associated Press. ‘People go to Jill Biden’s fundraisers because they want to hear from her.’
Mulholland added: ‘As a teacher, she knows how to listen and single out people that she thinks needs extra attention or extra conversation.’
Steve Westly, a Bay Area venture capitalist who raised money for Biden in previous campaigns, added: ‘Everybody who meets this woman loves her.’
He also described Jill Biden as the ‘most genuine, sunny, warmhearted, kind person you’re ever going to meet. She just exudes that.’
Republican strategist Doug Heye said presidents’ wives are generally liked by independent voters. He also suggested she can provide the president a layer of protection against criticism as Republicans run the risk of scrutinizing her and subsequently drawing ire from those who like her.
‘If you’re criticizing the first lady, that can backfire,’ Heye said.
The first lady has become a seasoned public speaker through her husband’s decades of public service, and she participated in nearly 40 campaign and fundraising events in the fall of 2022.
However, her campaigning has occasionally sparked some controversy.
The Biden team was criticized last year after Jill Biden likened the diversity of Hispanics to the flavor of breakfast tacos.
The comment became a meme widely shared by the Republican Party and its supporters.
Earlier this year, she made another off-hand remark when she encouraged the losers of the NCAA women’s basketball final to come to the White House in addition to the winners. The idea was widely criticized and never materialized.
Jill Biden previously told The Associated Press that her husband is ‘not done’ and has more he wants to get done for the American people.
Biden is nine years younger than the president, who turns 81 in November.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.