United States President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden have given their first official interview since moving into the White House.
Sitting down with People, the Bidens shared their plans to lead the coronavirus-riddled US out of its current state and back to a sense of normality.
They also shared some insights into how their decades-long marriage has remained successful through love, loss, success and failure.
Despite being in office for less than a month, President Biden has hit the ground running.
He has already signed dozens of executive orders on everything from climate change to transgender rights, and is eager to remove some of the more contentious legislation left over from the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, Dr Biden has her hands full with a career of her own that she describes as her “passion”: teaching English at Northern Virginia Community College.
Dr Biden is the first FLOTUS to hold a separate job while her husband is in office.
Though the couple spent years coming and going from the White House during Barack Obama’s two terms, this is the first time they have actually lived there – and they’re making themselves right at home.
“The residence staff has been so great, trying to make it feel like home for us. We have family pictures all around, our books, some furniture we brought from home,” Dr Biden said.
Finding a way out
With the current seven-day average coronavirus deaths in the US sitting at around 3000, Biden has his work cut out in terms of planning America’s escape from COVID’s iron grip.
Though he is hopeful and determined to have a leg up by this time next year, the 78-year-old understands that things may get worse before they can get better.
I hope we have fundamentally returned to normal as it relates to COVID – and it’s going to be hard, because they’re predicting another 100,000-150,000 dead unless we take precautions, even with the vaccine.
“I hope we have really begun to make inroads on equity for all people … where they can have decent jobs and decent opportunities, and the economy is growing, and people are back to a degree of optimism.”
No more nepotism
In a subtle dig at his predecessor Donald Trump, President Biden made it abundantly clear that the new administration would not be bringing on board any extra family members.
When quizzed about his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings with Ukraine and China, Biden said he intended to “run this like the Obama-Biden administration”.
No one in our family and extended family is going to be involved in any government undertaking or foreign policy. And nobody has an office in this place.
The statement was likely a reference to Trump’s penchant for hiring family members, including daughter Ivanka, who served as a senior White House advisor from 2017 until Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
The secret to success
Whether President Biden will be able to successfully contain COVID-19 and mitigate its economic effects remains to be seen, but there was one clear message that emerged from the interview.
The Bidens are a united front.
Following years of speculation that Melania Trump had one foot out the door (and appeared entirely averse to any physical contact with her husband), the image of a happy, healthy and strong marriage in the White House may feel somewhat foreign.
But it seems the Bidens really do have each other’s backs.
“She has a backbone like a ramrod. Everybody says marriage is 50/50. Well, sometimes you have to be 70/30,” Biden said of his wife.
Thank God that when I’m really down, she steps in, and when she’s really down, I’m able to step in. We’ve been really supportive of one another.
“I’ve read all that data as well about families under pressure, and that’s why I’m glad she kept her profession.
“It’s important that she has the things that she cares a great deal about, her independence. And yet we share each other’s dreams.”
Dr Biden concurs, and attributes their strength to the shared tragedies they have suffered and survived, such as the loss of Biden’s son Beau in 2015.
“All that we’ve been through together – the highs, the lows and certainly tragedy and loss – there’s that quote that says sometimes you become stronger in the fractured places. That’s what we try to achieve.”