NAIROBI, Kenya: US first lady Jill Biden gave one of the clearest indications yet that President Joe Biden will run for a second term, telling The Associated Press in an exclusive interview on Friday that there’s “pretty much” nothing left to do but figure out the time and place for the announcement.
Although Biden has long said that it’s his intention to seek reelection, he has yet to make it official, and he’s struggled to dispel questions about whether he’s too old to continue serving as president. Biden would be 86 at the end of a second term.
“How many times does he have to say it for you to believe it?” the first lady said in Nairobi, the second and final stop of her five-day trip to Africa.
She added, “He says he’s not done. He’s not finished what he’s started. And that’s what’s important.”
Granddaughter Naomi Biden, who is on the trip, cheered the first lady’s comments after the interview.
“Preach nana,” she said on Twitter.
The president himself was asked about his wife’s comments just hours later in an interview with ABC News, and laughed when told of her remarks, adding, “God love her. Look, I meant what I said, I’ve got other things to finish before I get into a full-blown campaign.”
'Because I’m his wife'
Biden aides have said an announcement is likely to come in April, after the first fundraising quarter ends, which is around the time that President Barack Obama officially launched his reelection campaign.
The first lady has long been described as a key figure in Biden’s orbit as he plans his future.
“Because I’m his wife,” she laughed.
She brushed off the question about whether she has the deciding vote on whether the president runs for reelection.
“Of course he’ll listen to me, because we’re a married couple,” she said. But, she added later, “he makes up his own mind, believe me.”
Jill Biden also spoke extensively for the first time about her skin cancer diagnosis, which led doctors to remove multiple basal cell lesions in January.
“I thought, oh, it’s just something on my eye, you know,” she said. “But then they said, no, we think it’s basal cell.”
Then doctors checked her chest, she said, and they said “that’s definitely basal cell.”
“So I’m lucky,” the first lady said. “Believe me, I am so lucky that they caught it, they removed it, and I’m healthy.”
Jill Biden is the only first lady to continue her career in addition to her ceremonial duties, teaching writing and English to community college students. At 71 years old, she said she’s not ready to think about retirement.
“I know that I will know when it’s enough,” she said. “But it’s not yet.”
She said she left detailed lesson plans for a substitute teacher while she was on her trip, and she’s been texting with students as she was traveling. She plans to be back in the classroom at 8am on Tuesday morning, after arriving home from Africa around 3am Monday.