President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden are settled in the White House now, and are acclimating to their place as the first family. The couple is considered by many a return to conventional presidential decorum, though they do have some stark differences from other past occupants of the White House. There are a few key things to understand about the Biden family as the presidency gets underway.
Joe and Jill Biden both hail from Pennsylvania, where they met in 1975. The two are already very familiar with life in the spotlight, after Biden's years as a senator followed by his time as vice president of the United States. Still, they bring something different to the presidency this time around, as many Americans have intuited. The biggest norm they plan to break is that Jill will continue to work as a college professor throughout the coming term.
President Donald Trump broke the record as the oldest man ever elected president in 2016, and Biden is beating his record this time around. Accordingly, the new president-elect and first lady are coming to the White House with no children, as theirs are now grown adults. From that perspective, the new first family is even less traditional than the one that preceded it.
All of this and more will factor into public perception of Joe and Jill Biden in the four years to come. Here is a look at what you need to know about the new first family as they move into the White House.
When Joe and Jill Biden married each other, it was the second time both of them had tied the knot. Joe Biden was married to Neila Hunter from 1966 until 1972, when she died in a tragic car accident. Their three children, Beau, Hunter and Amy Biden were in the car with her, though only the two boys survived.
As for Jill Biden, she married former college football player and bar owner Bill Stevenson in 1970 while she herself was still in school. The marriage lasted until 1974, and Jill was still in the process of divorcing Stevenson when she and Joe first met. These early experiences with marriage clearly informed the bond that these two found together.prevnext
Joe Biden's brother, Frank, set up Jill and Joe on a blind date in March of 1975, according to a profile by The New York Times. Joe was a newly-elected senator while Jill was still in school, where she had met Frank. The fact that Joe is nine years older than Jill was actually one of the things that drew her to him, as she recalls being impressed by his more formal appearance and bearing. She said that after their first date, she told her mother: "Mom, I finally met a gentleman."prevnext
Joe and Jill Biden courted each other for two years, during which time she even worked briefly in his Senate office. Finally, the two married in June of 1977 in the Chapel at the United Nations in New York City. Jill Biden had been raised agnostic, but embraced a wedding ceremony in Joe's Roman Catholic faith.prevnext
Beau and Hunter
Jill Biden raised and co-parented Biden's two surviving sons from his previous marriage — Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III and Robert Hunter Biden. They were 8 and 7 years old respectively at the time their father remarried, and they referred to Jill as "Mom" throughout their lives. However, Jill Biden never formally adopted them.prevnext
Joe and Jill Biden had just one biological child together — Ashley Blazer Biden, born in June of 1981. Ashley went on to work as a social worker and a fashion designer, with appointments in the Delaware state government and fashion shows in New York.prevnext
Dr. Jill Biden
Perhaps the biggest thing that sets the Bidens apart as the new first family is Jill's unwavering commitment to her own work, even as her husband takes the highest office in the land. Jill has a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) from the University of Delaware, as well as two Master's degrees from other universities. In the fall of 2020, a brief viral controversy stirred up online when a Wall Street Journal op-ed suggested that she should stop using the honorific "doctor" title for her non-medical degree.
Biden goes further than using the title, however — she intends to continue teaching college English throughout her husband's presidency. This is unprecedented among first families, with the closest thing to an exception being Joe's 1988 presidential run. At the time, Jill told reporters that she would continue working then as well.prevnext
Finally, many Americans are now re-examining the Bidens' role in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017, especially as it pertains to their public perception. Jill Biden was notably outspoken about politics, beyond the usual supportive dialogue a woman in her position is expected to stick to. For example, in a 2008 interview with The Washington Post, she recalled George W. Bush's re-election, saying: "I literally wore black for a week. I just could not believe that he won, because I felt that things were already so bad. I was so against the Iraq War. And I said to Joe, 'You've got to change this, you have to change this.'"0comments
Jill Biden taught college English at community colleges in Washington, D.C. during her time as second lady, and the Bidens were generally well-liked throughout the term. Jill also found time for public outreach programs such as the Biden Breast Health Initiative, and traveled internationally with her husband, meeting with other heads of state. The two were often regarded as a model of wholesome, long-term marriage.
The Bidens will take on all that pressure and more once again this week when Joe becomes the 46th president of the United States. Inauguration Day is on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.prev