Jill Biden Visits 3 States in a Day, Assuring Voters Biden Is ‘All In’


Jill Biden, the first lady, echoed President Biden on Monday in his the-discussion-is-over position that he would stay in the presidential race.

While Mr. Biden stared down his own party back in Washington and called into a preferred television show, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” to reiterate that he was staying in the race, Dr. Biden said as much during a one day, three-state campaign swing in North Carolina, Florida and Georgia.

“For all the talk out there about this race, Joe has made it clear that he’s all in,” Dr. Biden told a crowd at a brewery in Wilmington, N.C. “That’s the decision he’s made, and just as he has always supported my career, I am all in too. I know you are too or you wouldn’t be here today. And with four more years, Joe will continue to fight for you.”

Her stops were officially about shoring up support for her husband among military families and tying it to Joining Forces, an initiative Dr. Biden has championed since she was second lady in the Obama administration. But the whirlwind trip was just as much about reassuring shaken supporters of her husband that both Bidens were still campaigning to win.

Madeline Schildwachter, a 38-year-old grant writer whose husband had been sent on four combat deployments while in the Marines, walked away from the event with her hand on her chest and saying aloud to herself, “That felt good, we’re OK.”

Ms. Schildwachter, who is a Biden supporter but not a campaign volunteer, said she had attended the first lady’s event solely to see for herself whether the Bidens were still in the race.

“I think that everybody needed a little dose of motivation,” she said. “So much is filtered through a media lens, but I do feel that Jill’s energy is different in person. You can feel what she meant.”

On her next stop, in Tampa, Fla., voters said they were encouraged to see the first lady but said they wanted Mr. Biden to be the one making the case directly to them. Madison Janner, a 20-year-old who lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., said she was not sure that she would vote for Mr. Biden after the debate.

“Honestly, that’s part of the reason I came here,” she said. “I do feel like I need some reassurance right now. I’m a registered Democrat, and I personally thought I was going to vote for Biden, but I don’t know what to think at this point.”

She added, “What would reassure me is seeing our president perform and not someone coming out for him.”

First ladies are generally expected to be comforter-in-chief types in times of national tragedy or unrest. But it is rare to see one called upon to quell widespread fear and concern within her own party about the president’s ability to lead the country.

The vigorous campaign schedule of Dr. Biden stands in stark contrast to Melania Trump, the former first lady who has not joined her husband, former President Donald J. Trump, on the campaign trail. She did not attend the debate between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump in Atlanta, though she is scheduled to attend a Log Cabin Republicans fund-raiser at her home in Trump Tower in New York on Monday.

The Bidens still have an uphill battle in convincing those within his own party whether Mr. Biden, who is 81, is fit for a second term. In recent days, several House Democrats have called for Mr. Biden to step down, and more were expected to do so as lawmakers returned to Washington from a summer recess.

Columnists and pundits have called on Mr. Biden to drop out, fueling an attitude within Mr. Biden’s White House and campaign that Mr. Biden should be focused more on average voters than the “elites” that frustrate him, as he said on “Morning Joe.” Within the White House, several aides, many of whom have been dejected since Mr. Biden’s disastrous debate performance in Atlanta, had mixed reactions to the president’s decision to call in to the show.

The first lady dodged questions from reporters traveling with her about what she would say to Democrats who have called for her husband to drop out.

“Why are you screaming at me?” she asked reporters outside of a coffee shop in Tampa, Fla. “You know me. Don’t scream at me. Just talk.” She declined to answer the question.

A person directly familiar with Mr. Biden’s thinking said on Monday that the president was still staunchly in the race and would not leave it without a protracted fight. But that person also said that Mr. Biden has been warned by some close to him this is still a crucial phase and that his ability to remain the Democratic candidate is not a sure thing.

For her part, the first lady remains the closest person to the president — not an adviser, but his spouse of 47 years — and she would be a decisive voice in any decision he would make to stay in the race or leave it.

She has been solidly in the stay-in camp, as is Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who has been informally advising his father in recent days.

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