Jill Biden ‘all in’ on husband’s reelection bid as he defies calls to quit

Speaking to veterans, US first lady draws contrast between her military family and Trump’s contempt for troops, as president tries to allay Democrats’ growing concern about his age

US First Lady Jill Biden speaks during a barbeque for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (Mandel Ngan / AFP)
US First Lady Jill Biden speaks during a barbeque for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (Mandel Ngan / AFP)

TAMPA, Florida (AP) — Jill Biden on Monday declared herself “all in” on United States President Joe Biden’s bid to remain as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, despite calls by some Democrats for him to drop out after his damaging debate performance against Donald Trump shook their confidence in him.

The president himself has brushed aside those calls and insisted anew on Monday that he isn’t leaving the race.

“For all the talk out there about this race, Joe has made it clear that he’s all in,” the first lady told a military crowd in Wilmington, North Carolina, the first of three battleground states she was visiting.

“That’s the decision that he’s made, and just as he has always supported my career, I am all in too,” said Jill Biden, who teaches English and writing as a community college professor.

Later Monday, in remarks at an American Legion post in Tampa, Florida, she said her husband considers support of the military and veterans a “sacred obligation” that she contended contrasts with Trump.

“As commander in chief, President Biden wakes up every morning ready to work for you,” Jill Biden said. “Donald Trump wakes up every morning thinking of one person and one person only: himself.”

US First Lady Jill Biden (L) looks on as President Joe Biden speaks to supporters and volunteers during a campaign stop at a Biden-Harris campaign office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on July 7, 2024. (Saul Loeb / AFP)

Danny Fuqua, president of the Democratic Veterans Caucus of Florida, said Biden’s ties to the military make him the clear choice in November.

“The Bidens are a military family. They are one of us. They not only see the uniform, they see the person in it,” Fuqua said.

Jill Biden addressed another military audience later Monday in Columbus, Georgia, home of the Army’s sprawling Fort Moore.

Her daylong tour was part of the Biden campaign’s broader effort to rebound from the president’s halting performance against Trump in last month’s debate.

The debate led some congressional Democrats and others to call on him to let another candidate challenge Trump because they no longer believe the 81-year-old president is mentally and physically capable of defeating the former Republican president in November.

US President Joe Biden and former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump participate in the first presidential debate of the 2024 elections at CNN’s studios in Atlanta, Georgia, June 27, 2024. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP)

Jill Biden also announced the formation of an organizing group, Veterans and Military Families for Biden-Harris at her Tampa stop.

“We can’t take anything for granted. We have to meet this moment because our freedoms are at risk,” she said.

The president has insisted since the June 27 debate that he is staying in the race. He did so again on Monday in a letter to congressional Democrats and during an on-air telephone interview with MSNBC.

Jill Biden used her appearance to draw contrasts between her husband’s and Trump’s attitudes toward US service members, veterans and their families.

The president’s late son Beau served in Iraq as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard, and the first lady’s father was a Navy signalman during World War II.

Beau Biden, celebrates his election as Delaware’s attorney general with his parents, Jill Biden and then-Senator Joe Biden, in Wilmington, Delaware, November 7, 2006. (AP Photo/Pat Crowe II, File)

“This is personal to us,” she said, describing the waits to connect by phone with a service member stationed overseas or having to smile through a loved one’s absence on holidays.

“Let me ask you this … Does Donald Trump know what it’s like?” she said.

The first lady mentioned reports that Trump, during a 2018 trip to France, referred to service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice as “suckers” and “losers.” Trump denies making the comments.

“It’s disgraceful, but it’s not surprising,” she said. And, noting that the US Supreme Court has said presidents are immune from prosecution for acts committed while in office, the first lady said “our democracy cannot withstand a Trump president with virtually no limits.”

“Members of our military honor their oath to support and defend the Constitution. We cannot trust Donald Trump to do the same,” she said. “You deserve a commander in chief who serves with integrity and wisdom and character, and that’s my husband, Joe Biden.”

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden walk in the Normandy American Cemetery following a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France, June 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A spokesperson for Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

During the debate, Biden and Trump argued over who cares the most about veterans. Biden noted that he recently visited an American military cemetery in France, the final resting place for US soldiers who fought in World War I, which Trump notably skipped on his 2018 trip.

Trump asserted during the debate that the Democratic president is coddling migrants while neglecting the needs of veterans and service members, and he faulted Biden for the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

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