Jill Biden talks about what it's like visiting GOP states

Jill Biden talks about what it's like visiting GOP states
© Associated Press/Andrew Harnik

First lady Jill BidenJill BidenWhite House holiday decorations available for 360 tour via Google Street View The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud MORE on Wednesday discussed her experiences traveling to GOP-dominated states, visits that she said are sometimes marked by “anger or hurt.”

Delivering remarks at the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy’s National Summit for Adult Literacy in Washington, D.C., Biden said she travels to states that are dominated by Republicans despite their political differences because “I’m their first lady too."

“People have asked me why. Why go to Mississippi or Alabama or Alaska—why talk to people who will never agree with you? And the answer is that I’m their First Lady too,” Biden said.

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Biden on Wednesday said she has visited 32 states in the U.S. so far this year to encourage people to get vaccinated, discuss education and child poverty and to talk to people who are often ignored.

She said that while her stops in GOP states are sometimes “met with anger or hurt,” she has found “common values that unite us are deeper than our divisions.”

“I’ve seen how a kind word or gesture can relax someone’s shoulders just a bit—can open their heart to what you have to say, even if we’ll never agree,” Biden said.

“I’ve seen how, despite our differences, families across the country want the same things: the chance to work hard and build a good life for our families,” she added.

Biden said that sometimes the job of being the first lady “pushes you to show up, even when it’s uncomfortable—when it calls you to rise to the needs of a moment.”

Biden has emerged as an active figure in her husband’s White House, even as she continues to teach at Northern Virginia Community College.

She also hit the campaign trail in Virginia last week to stump for former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) as he runs to secure a second term as chief of the Old Dominion.

Biden, during her remarks on Wednesday, reflected candidly on the role of being the president’s spouse, contending that “there’s nothing that can prepare you to be First Lady.”

“We aren’t elected. We have to define this role for ourselves. And we are thrust into the national spotlight in a way I know none of us could have anticipated,” she added.

She recounted one February incident in Washington, D.C., when her fashion choice turned heads.

“A few months ago, I went to a bakery to buy Valentine’s Day cupcakes and the fact that I wore my hair up in a scrunchie made national news. Can you believe that? I was so surprised,” Biden said.

“As First Lady, everything you say or do carries more weight. And while that can be intimidating at times, it’s also what makes this role special,” she added.