Happy Birthday, Jill Biden! | b. June 5, 1951
Known to her students as “Dr. B,” the 30-year teaching veteran never considered relinquishing her career when her senator husband was sworn in as vice president and the couple had to move from Delaware to D.C. (She often graded papers while on the campaign trail.) Biden is proud of her two master’s degrees, and the Ph.D. she earned in 2007. (Woe to the emcee who announces her as anything other than Dr. Jill Biden.) She’s never been entirely comfortable in the political spotlight her husband seems to relish. When she submitted her doctoral thesis to the University of Delaware, she used her maiden name, Jacobs. Not a single picture of Joe Biden hangs in her campus cubicle (yes, she maintains a cubicle, not an office). Colleagues say she is disarmingly low-key, frequently using a ladies’ room on campus to freshen up after class or even to change into a cocktail dress if she’s dashing off to a White House event. “She wants to downplay it,” says Biden’s boss, Jim McClellan, dean of NOVA’s Liberal Arts Department. “But she hasn’t ever missed a class. She once asked permission to skip her office hours to go on a South American tour with her husband, so I let her out 10 minutes early — Air Force Two was revving up on the strip. They touched down again after midnight on Tuesday morning, and she was back here at work by 7 a.m.”
In an administration teeming with big personalities, Biden has cultivated an unlikely reputation as a practical joker. Recalls O’Donnell: “One day, she bought one of those glasses-and-fake-mustache things and wore them around so no one would ‘recognize her.’ She promptly wore them into a foreign-policy dinner the V.P. was hosting at the residence. She did the same with a wig during a speech prep session.” One year, Joe Biden told a reporter that for Valentine’s Day, his wife snuck into his White House office and painted dozens of red hearts all over his 10-foot-high windows, along with the words Jill loves Joe. (x)
Where I come from, I am known as Jill Biden’s husband, and I’m voting for her. I want you all to know that the only reason I stick around is so she can see me up close. [x]
“Jilly, my favorite Democrat… Folks, I tell you what, it was worth the trip to hear my wife say what I’ve never heard her say before: She’s always loved me. If that’s the case, why in the heck did it take five times of asking you? And that’s true. Five times. I don’t know what I would have done, kiddo, had you on that fifth time said no. I love you. You’re the love of my life and the life of my love.”
"Chemistry," says top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. "They’re very, very outwardly demonstrative. When Dr. Biden isn’t around and Joe Biden speaks of her, you can just see these dreamy eyes — his face lights up." [x]
During the 2008 campaign, Jill pulled a prank on Joe at a Halloween day rally.
"I tell ya what, some things never change," the Democratic vice-presidential nominee said to start off his rally in this battleground Buckeye State.
"I probably shouldn’t let the press know this, but you know, Jill walked back up here a moment ago," he said.
"You know what she did?" he asked the crowd of 2,000.
"She put a little rat on the thing here," said Biden, referring to the lectern and holding up a small black plastic rat.
"Everything’s Halloween with this lady," quipped the loquacious Blue Hen. "Happy Halloween," he told the audience.
And turning back to his spouse, the Delaware lawmaker scolded jokingly, “You are bad, you are bad!” [x]
Jill also has a sense of humor that the public rarely sees, according to family members and aides. Valerie Biden Owens [Jill’s sister-in-law] recalled one official trip when tired aides were preparing to head home to Washington. Biden snuck onto the plane before them and crawled into an overhead luggage bin above the seat of an aide who was bringing a carry-on bag. “She stashes herself up there, and when this person comes, she goes, ‘Boo!’ Well, the person about has a coronary,” Biden Owens said. [x]