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The First Lady Jill Biden arrived at 10:50 am at the summer home of Sandy Urie and Frank Herron, off of Madaket Road, on the island of Nantucket, on a sunny Saturday morning. Guests were screened for COVID, using a rapid-antigen test before being allowed to enter the event.
On her arrival the first lady participated in a photo op line with close to two dozen guests.
The first lady set aside her prepared remarks, stepped out from behind the podium, and talked more formally to the guests. She began by asking the guests to remember a year and a half ago, when thousands were still dying in the COVID pandemic, and much of our lives were connected via Zoom links.
She said President Joe Biden came into the White House when there were already many national issues that needed to be dealt with.
Jill Biden said that voters elected Joe Biden because of his years of experience, recognition on a global and national stage, and his steadiness and ability to think things out, which come from almost 40 years of government service.
“I think that you chose him, at least in my mind, maybe yours as well, because it was a choice between good and evil,” she said.
The first lady added that President Biden is the right person at the right time for many reasons.
“He’s just had some many things thrown his way,” she said. “Who would have ever thought about what happened [the Supreme Court overturning] Roe v Wade? Well, maybe we saw it coming, but still we didn’t believe it. The gun violence in this country is absolutely appalling. We didn’t see the war in Ukraine coming.”
Speaking of her husband, Joe Biden, she said “He had so many hopes and plans for things he wanted to do, but every time you turned around, he had to address the problems of the moment.”
Jill Biden said she faced a similar problem in her role as First Lady.
“I was saying to myself, ‘Okay, I was Second Lady. I worked on community colleges. I worked on military families. I’ve worked on cancer. They were supposed to be my areas of focus. But then when we got (in the White House) I had to be, with all that was happening, First Lady of the moment.”
“If you think of what happened in Waukesha [on November 21, 2021, a gunman shooting from his car, killed six and injured 62 others, at an annual Christmas parade] where people were just mowed down. People were a little hesitant about the First Lady going there. Was it for politics? But then I got there and started talking to people and we are all just Americans. I think we’ve been so divided for so long that we’re afraid to reach out a little bit to people who don’t believe the same things we believe.”
Jill Biden said that Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine, asked her to meet.
“It took a little managing. But I finally got into Ukraine. The secret service were absolutely amazing. I met with Mrs. Zelenska, and she said to me, ‘You need to be here and talk to the citizens. What they have seen is horrible.’ ”
Jill Biden said that she expects to meet with Zelenska again next week. She said one mother told her that she had been forced underground with her children for weeks, with no food.
The woman and her husband left the children and went out looking for food. But when they found a bread line and as they approached it Russian soldiers came with machine guns and shot everybody.
“So how can you live through something like that and not go insane?” asked FLOTUS, saying that she is working on finding a way to get mental health services to people caught in the Ukraine war.
The first lady told the guests, “we really need your help to elect people. Not just Senators and Congressmen, but people at all levels of government, who represent how we feel and believe the same things we believe. To me that’s the only way we’re going to do this.”
Jill Biden mentioned the fate of potential climate change legislation, which faltered after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) said he would not support it. President Biden has said he will take executive action on climate change, if the legislation fails.
She said that Republicans have stalled the Biden Administration’s agenda in Congress.
“Probably a lot of you in read in the paper about climate change. I mean that was certainly on our agenda. How important do you think that is? Joe truly believes in working with Congress and getting things done, but obviously the Republicans are pulling together and they’re not budging. They are not budging. Who would think that AR-15s make any sense for anything? Who doesn’t believe in the need to deal with climate change?”
Jill Biden told a story about reading an article in the New York Times about political courage. The report included a list of ten people they thought had political courage. “I started thinking about my own husband and how would I define his moral courage and what has he done that I think is courageous?”
“In the 1990s, he wrote the Violence Against Women Act. He wrote the bill against assault weapons and got it passed, but then the senate changed and we lost it. I thought that was really moral courage. He was one of the first politicians to come out in favor of gay marriage.”
“I said to him, ‘Joe what is the most courageous thing you have ever done?’ He looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Marrying you.’ Honestly, I didn’t know how to take that.”
The anecdote drew laughs.
“I know there are so many nay-sayers who say we’ll get slammed in the midterms. Okay. The Republicans are working hard, they stick together, for good or evil. So, we just have to work harder.”
She said that while she supports the protests after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, protesting is not enough to make a change.
“So many young girls, my own grandchildren included, went up to the Supreme Court and marched. I say okay, good for you. But what are you going to do next? You feel good about yourself because you voiced your opinion but what are you going to do next? What is your plan?”
Jill Biden said that at the last fundraiser she spoke at in Texas, a young girl told her that she was doing something.
“She was making these cute little bracelets to support Planned Parenthood. We gotta reach our young people so they know what’s at stake. We gotta get the message out. We just have to lock arms and stay active and fight. I want you to think of your plan. What are you going to do? Raise money? Work on somebody’s campaign? What are you going to do?”
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