You can tell a lot about a person by their marital relations and the company he keeps… just ask John Edwards! Only, this story isn’t about John Edwards. (Don’t you know the media’s not allowed to speak of that?!) This story is about a supportive spouse, Jill Biden.
Three years before she even met him personally, Jill voted for Joe. Later, after becoming Mrs. Biden, she traveled with her husband in 1988 when he first ran for president and encouraged him to run for the presidency again in 2004, after feeling disgusted by George W Bush’s re-election.
“After Bush won again I was flabbergasted. I mean, I didn’t know anybody at all who voted for Bush. I just didn’t think he could win again. I was so disappointed in the fact that John Kerry didn’t win and that Bush’s policies were going to continue,” she confessed. “We talked as a family before Joe even knew about it and we went to Joe two years ago and said, ‘We think you are the only one that can pull together the red states and the blue states and build consensus on issues that are important. We think you should run.’ And, he did.”
Now she is excited about his spot on the ticket, ready to campaign tirelessly again. “It’s a little challenging in that I’m always changing hats. I’m grading papers in the car between campaign stops… It’s a little hard to transition some of the time, but life is never dull,” she said.
Jill Tracy Jacobs, daughter of a bank teller and a homemaker, first met her husband through a friend back in 1975, just after she had sworn off dating following an unsuccessful first marriage. She had been aware of Senator Biden — his professional career, as well as the personal tragedy he had suffered a few years earlier when his first wife and daughter died in a car accident — but didn’t really know him. Joe recalled gazing upon the lovely Jill in a newspaper advertisement for a local park. That same night his brother said he had the number of a young woman he thought Joe would like — mainly because she wasn’t a politico. So Joe called and asked her out, not knowing she was the same woman from the ad — or that she already had another date that night. “He asked if I couldn’t cancel the other date because he was only in town for one night,” Jill reminisced. “So, I did. I canceled the other date, because I thought it might be interesting to go out and see what he was like.” According to a friend, she had thought Joe was a real gentleman — showing up in a suit and shaking her hand cordially. Despite her initial hesitation, she felt that if he could love deeply once, he could do it again, and after two years of courtship they were married.
In his memoir Promises To Keep, Joe described the wedding at the United Nations chapel: “We hadn’t told anybody but our family and closest friends … The ceremony itself was family only — but that counted nearly forty. Beau and Hunter stood with us at the altar … We had a big reception lunch at the Sign of the Dove … since all four of us were getting married — that we should include the boys on the honeymoon. We got two nice hotel rooms and let the boys pick theirs. That night we went to see Annie on Broadway.”
“Most people don’t know that Joe has a romantic side,” Jill tells journalists. It’s easy to see Joe’s head-over-heels for her 30 years later, as he introduced his wife as “drop-dead gorgeous” — joking a moment later, “she also has a doctorate degree, which is a problem.” During his tenure in the Senate, he always commuted 100 miles via Amtrak to be with his family each night.
Mrs. Biden knew she wanted to be a career woman at age 15. “I wanted my own money, my own identity, my own career,” she explained. This intimidating and studious woman has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Delaware, two Master’s Degrees from West Chester University and Villanova University, as well as a Doctorate from the University of Delaware. For more than 20 years, she taught history to emotionally troubled teens and worked as a professor of English at Delaware Technical Community College. She put her career temporarily on hold in 1981, when their daughter Ashley was born.
Her hobbies include running marathons, watching Philadelphia Eagles games, eating fruit pies, biking and traveling with her husband. Yet her priorities as Mrs. Vice President would be much more serious. “Having been a teacher for many years, I would have to say that education would be my number one priority,” she told TIME Magazine. She added, “I think I am like the average American. I’m in a community college classroom. I have students who are working and going to school and have children. I think I’m dealing with real life every single day. I take that home to Joe and say, ‘Look. These students can’t afford college. They are having these problems. We have to change this. We have to change that.’ I think what I do in my life experiences has a positive impact on Joe and, hopefully, it expands to have a positive influence on other people.”
Health care is another issue Jill Biden feels very passionately about. After three close friends came down with Breast Cancer in 1993, she felt moved to do something. So she founded the Biden Breast Health Initiative, a program aimed at early detection of Breast Cancer. She told EssentialEstrogen.com: “Education is not just about reading, writing and arithmetic; it’s about teaching our children how to keep themselves healthy. So, my focus would include teaching about health issues like obesity, the dangers of smoking and educating young girls about breast cancer and the importance of self exams.”
Jill wants her husband to be part of the next administration because she wants to return to a time where Americans can feel safe again. “That doesn’t mean just with the issue of terrorism. I want them to feel safe in all aspects of their life whether it is with their health care, sending their kids to school or crime on the streets,” she said. “I think Joe can address all those issues. Of course, he is a leader in foreign policy and I think that’s what makes the difference for Joe Biden as a president versus the other candidates. I think he is the only who can really reach across the aisle, unite the red states and the blue states, work with Republicans as well as Democrats and that’s why he is successful.”