Jill Biden must have been extremely busy this year.
The first lady says she took on a “healing role” amid her husband’s calamitous and disaster-filled first year in the White House as his administration and the nation were battered by the coronavirus pandemic, natural disasters and a deep divide over President Biden’s abilities to lead.
Biden sat down for the interview earlier this month in Las Vegas, a day after she accompanied her husband to tour the damage and comfort the victims of a late December fire in Louisville, Colo., that destroyed more than a thousand homes.
Along with visiting Colorado, the first lady went to Waukesha, Wis., in the wake of the Christmas parade tragedy in which a madman plowed into marchers, killing six, and traveled to Kentucky last week after a line of tornadoes tore through five Southern states, killing more than 90 people.
Biden said she sees those visits as a “prime example” of the responsibility she feels as first lady and a way to provide comfort to Americans at a difficult time in their lives.
“I would want to know that my president and first lady cared about me,” Biden said. “I think that’s an important part of what I do. I mean, just helping people through the tough times.”
Her life has also been touched by tragedy.
She married Joe Biden five years after his first wife and infant daughter were killed in a 1972 car crash and became a mother to his two surviving sons.
One of them, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.
“I know the tough things that we’ve been through in our life and I know the, how much the acts of kindness have meant to me and to Joe,” Biden said. “So I just know what a difference it makes when you show up. I think showing up is really important.”
Biden, 70, carries out her first lady duties while teaching writing full-time at Northern Virginia Community College, where she has taught since 2009.
Her interview comes as another disastrous poll for her husband, out Sunday, showed a majority of Americans believe the Biden administration has not focused enough on the economy and inflation, and 50 percent say the president’s first year in office has left them feeling “frustrated.”
Fifty-eight percent say the Biden White House has not paid enough attention to the economy and 65 percent say that about the administration’s handling of inflation, according to a CBS News/YouGov. poll.
It found that 35 percent think Biden has put the right amount of focus on the economy, and 28 percent say he’s put the right amount of focus on inflation.
Asked how the Biden presidency has made them feel, 50 percent of respondents say “frustrated,” 49 percent say “disappointed,” 40 percent say “nervous,” and 25 percent say “calm” and “satisfied.”
And the president’s approval rating hit an all-time low last week, the Quinnipiac survey finding his job approval rating had tumbled to 33 percent, a whopping 17 percentage-point drop from February and an indication of American voters’ deep dissatisfaction over his administration’s response to rising inflation and a resurgence of COVID-19.
Still, Jill Biden called the White House a “magical place” and said she wants to be able to take advantage of her position.
“I’ve always said that if I were ever given this platform, I would never waste it. Not one day,” the first lady said. “That’s why when I wake every day, I think, ’What can I do today? … What am I doing? Where am I going? What’s the strategy? What’s the plan?’”
In 2022, Biden said, she will continue to teach, but she also wants to work to promote cancer research, and help military families.
“It’s going to be an exciting year. It’s got to be a better year with the pandemic,” she said. “I mean everybody, I think everybody across this country is saying, ‘C’mon, it’s got to be a better year.’”