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Jill Biden, Joe’s chief protector, to step up as first lady

FILE – In this Oct. 5, 2020 file photo, Jill Biden moves her husband, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, back from members of the media as he speaks outside his campaign plane at New Castle Airport in New Castle, Del., to travel to Miami for campaign events. Protecting Joe stands out among Jill Biden’s many roles over their 43-year marriage, as her husband’s career moved him from the Senate to the presidential campaign trail and the White House as President Barack Obama’s vice president. She’s a wife, mother, grandmother and educator with a doctoral degree — as well as a noted prankster who will soon be putting her own stamp on what it means to be first lady. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 5, 2020 file photo, Jill Biden moves her husband, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, back from members of the media as he speaks outside his campaign plane at New Castle Airport in New Castle, Del., to travel to Miami for campaign events. Protecting Joe stands out among Jill Biden’s many roles over their 43-year marriage, as her husband’s career moved him from the Senate to the presidential campaign trail and the White House as President Barack Obama’s vice president. She’s a wife, mother, grandmother and educator with a doctoral degree — as well as a noted prankster who will soon be putting her own stamp on what it means to be first lady. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — She’s fended off protesters who made a run at her husband. She’s moved him farther from reporters during the coronavirus pandemic. She’s supported his presidential ambitions again and again — except in 2004, when she deployed a novel messaging technique to keep Joe Biden from running.

“No,” Jill Biden, then clad in a bikini, wrote in Sharpie across her stomach and then marched through a strategy session in which advisers were trying to talk her husband into challenging Republican President George W. Bush.

Protecting Joe stands out among Jill Biden’s many roles over their 43-year marriage, as her husband’s career moved him from the Senate to the presidential campaign trail and the White House as President Barack Obama’s vice president. She’s a wife, mother, grandmother and educator with a doctoral degree — as well as a noted prankster.

Now, with her husband on the brink of becoming the 46th president, Jill Biden is about to become first lady and put her own stamp on a position that traditionally is viewed as a model of American womanhood — whether that means hewing to old ways or finding new, activist ones, in the manner of Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, for example.

She intends to keep working as a college professor, which would make her the only first lady to keep her day job outside the home. And if four decades in the public eye are any indication, she’ll continue being Biden’s chief protector.

The role isn’t completely unfamiliar territory for Jill Biden. She’s been a political wife the entire time she’s been married to Joe Biden. Plus, she had a bird’s-eye view of what a first lady does during Obama’s two terms.

But the scrutiny level will change. And all eyes are on the incoming Biden administration to deliver what both Joe and Jill have promised — getting the coronavirus pandemic raging across the country under control.

Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University and the author of several books about first ladies, recalled Barbara Bush telling her: “You know, when I was second lady, I could say anything I wanted, and no one really paid much attention. But the minute I became first lady, everything became newsworthy.”

Still, Jill Biden won’t have the learning curve most other new first ladies faced. “She’s been in the public eye for a long time,” Gutin said. “She’s going in eyes wide open.”

The coronavirus has killed more than 260,000 Americans and upended much of daily life. The Bidens offered themselves as agents of comfort at a time of loss and grief, experiences they know well particularly after their son Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015.

Joe Biden’s first wife and young daughter were killed in a car accident in 1972. Jill Biden helped raise his surviving young sons, Beau and Hunter, before giving birth to their daughter, Ashley, in 1981. She refers to all of them as her children.

As Joe Biden commuted from Delaware to Washington while serving as a senator, Jill Biden built a career as a teacher, ultimately earning two master’s degrees and then a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware in 2007.

Throughout, Jill Biden’s protective streak was notable. There she stood at his side, when Joe Biden withdrew from his first presidential bid under accusations of plagiarism. She says she emulated her mother’s stoic style. Jill Biden’s mother, she said, didn’t even cry when her own parents died. She saw that as strength. “I decided early that I would never let my emotions rule me,” she wrote in her memoir, ”Where the Light Enters.” Read from source….