At the Century Ballroom in Seattle, a bartender was serving mimosas. Stationary hors d’oeuvres, miniature spinach, and bacon quiches, phyllo cups with chevre and fig jam, sausage and pepper frittata, mini croissants with raspberry jam, and melon skewers with mint-lime honey were laid out for guests who began to flock in at 9:30 am. A private fundraiser for Senator Patty Murray was about to begin.
The First Lady made a brief appearance in an entry foyer at 11:11 am before walking with Senator Patty Murray and a phalanx of photographers and staff into a side room.
At 12:07 pm, First Lady Biden came out on stage with Sen. Murray. Wearing a black floral dress, she sat in a red armchair as Murray spoke from a podium. Murray said she decided to run for sixth-term reelection on Jan. 6, 2021.
“I was locked in my office in the Capitol as insurrectionists stormed the halls of Congress to stop the peaceful transfer of power with brute force,” Murray said. “It really hit me that day, our demcoracy doesn’t just happen, we have to fight for it.”
Murray shifted immediately to talking about abortion rights, saying Democrats need 52 senators to pass a bill protecting abortion rights nationwide.
First Lady Biden nodded and clapped.
Likewise, Murray said Democrats need 52 senators to pass voting rights legislation.
Biden shook her head as Murray said, “My opponent won’t even admit that Joe Biden was fairly elected in 2020.”
Murray recited a recent string of Democratic accomplishments — the infrastructure bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, the PACT Act, and the CHIPS Act.
The First Lady spoke about abortion in strikingly personal terms, telling a story from her childhood.
Her parents, she said, voted Republican but “didn’t talk about it at the dinner table.”
They didn’t debate Senate bills, she said but knew about the things that affected their lives: schools, jobs, affordable health care, safe neighborhoods.
In the late 1960s, when she was 17, Jill Biden said, her friend got pregnant. Abortion was illegal in Pennsylvania.
Her friend said the only way to get an abortion was to get a psychiatric evaluation and be declared mentally unfit.
“I went to see her in the hospital and then I cried the whole way home,” Biden said. When the friend was discharged from the hospital, Biden said she couldn’t go home, so “I gathered my courage and asked my mom can she come to stay with us.”
“Of course she can,” Jill Biden recalled her mom saying.
“She never told a soul. We never spoke about it again. Secrecy, shame, silence, danger, even death. That’s what defined that time for so many women.”
She assailed Republicans for pushing to pass abortion bans and urged the crowd to reelect Murray.
“Politics isn’t a game, and there are no spectators,” she said. “There’s just too much at stake.”
First Lady Biden ended her speech after 13 minutes and received a standing ovation. She and Murray raised their arms, holding hands triumphantly. She then left the stage at 12:39 pm. Her motorcade left the venue at 12:50, presumably headed to her scheduled 1 pm event at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center.