First lady Jill Biden offers insight into her marriage with President Biden

ByArlette Saenz, CNNWire
Friday, March 3, 2023
First lady Jill Biden offers insight into her marriage with President Biden
First lady Dr. Jill Biden offered a window into her marriage with President Joe Biden

First lady Dr. Jill Biden offered a window into her marriage with President Joe Biden, telling CNN in an interview that she maintains a "good balance" in the types of insight and advice she offers her husband.

"Certainly I tell him stories, and I have things that I've seen and things that people want and where their challenges are," she said during an interview in Nairobi, Kenya, which will air as part of a forthcoming special event, "CNN Primetime: Jill Biden Abroad." "So, it's not that I'm like weighing in. It's like, let me tell you what I saw or what I heard, or what people are saying to me."

"It's in that context because I'm out every day. I'm in the classroom. I'm out, you know, somewhere in the United States," she added. "I think it's a good balance really."

And on the other side of the relationship, Biden said her husband helps her understand there are different ways of looking at issues and viewpoints.

"Well, sometimes I don't, I may not see things from his perspective. Let's just put it that way. And so he offers both sides," she said. "I'm always better like, 'This person feels this way.' 'Yes, but this is why they,' -- you know, he's very good at that -- understanding why people feel the way they do. He understands both sides, which is part of his strength."

Her comments came during a wide-ranging interview with CNN on her five-day visit to Africa, which included stops in Namibia and Kenya.

RELATED: First lady Jill Biden in Africa to show administration's commitment, White House says

Biden, who has been married to the president for nearly 46 years, has long said she's not an adviser to her husband, but she is his most trusted partner and wields a significant amount of influence within the White House. The first lady told CNN she is "all for" her husband running for reelection in 2024 but also left an opening should he decide not to run, noting, "If he wants to do something else, we're there too."

Biden plays a unique role as first lady, the first to hold a full-time paid job outside of the White House. She teaches English and writing full time at Northern Virginia Community College, a job she also held for her eight years as second lady when her husband was vice president.

From her perch at the White House, she has spent time advocating for education issues, helping military families through her "Joining Forces" initiative and working to end cancer through the "Cancer Moonshot." The first lady is one of the Biden administration's most often used surrogates at events across the country.

"I think it's all so interesting and really fulfilling for me as, as a teacher, and as a woman, you know, to see the empowerment of other young women in them getting education," she said when asked how she balance the two roles. "There's nothing I can ever give up."

"I really feel like I've grown so much in this role, because of the opportunities that I've been given whether it's traveling to Africa, or whether it's traveling to Nebraska," she added. "I see so many different communities and reach out to people in all walks of life."

Biden said her experiences as an educator and first lady have helped her build connections with people during her travels abroad, which has included trips to 10 countries in her first two years in the role.

"Joe tends towards policy," she said. "I try to, you know, go in a little bit maybe a softer direction."

The first lady traveled to Africa to emphasize the United States' commitment to the region at a time when Russia and China have made inroads on the continent.

"We want to say, 'Hey, we're back. We're back. And we're here to meet you halfway,'" she said.

It marked her sixth trip to Africa after having traveled to the continent five times as second lady. She focused on delivering messages about women's empowerment, youth engagement, and the need to preserve democracy as well as highlighted programs funded through PEPFAR, the Bush-era initiative aimed at fighting HIV/AIDS around the world.

The first lady also looked to shine a spotlight on the severe drought affecting East Africa, traveling to the rural village Lositeti in Kenya on her final day in the country.

"Livestock is dying. There's no water. There's no grass. There are no crops. Mothers can't lactate. They're not able to feed their children. It's a major problem," she said. "I'm here before it gets any worse to try to create awareness and say, 'How can we find solutions for these major problems?'"