Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Biden takes pride in his wife’s looks and her brains

- BY KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

DENVER — Joe Biden has said that he first saw pictures of Jill Jacobs in March 1975 in an advertisem­ent for a local park in Wilmington, Del. The young blonde caught his eye. She was beautiful — you might call her drop-dead gorgeous.

That night, his brother, Frank, told him he had the number of a young woman that the senator would like, mainly because she did not like politics. Biden called her the next day and asked her out, for that very night. She was busy. Biden persisted. He was in town for only one night. Couldn’t she change her plans?

She did, finally. And when Biden arrived to pick her up, she turned out to be the woman in the advertisem­ent.

After Barack Obama tapped him on Saturday to be his vice presidenti­al running mate, Biden introduced Jill Biden to the world years.

Speaking to the state’s delegation before the vote, he said that “we hate to see the fact that her dream did not become reality. She would have made a great president.”

Wednesday’s proceeding­s began with Democratic Chairman Howard Dean calling for considerat­ion of a “brief procedural matter,” to put Obama’s and Clinton’s names up for nomination.

After nominating speeches from three of each candidate’s supporters, the roll call vote began.

Arkansas’ votes were registered amid confusion.

As American Samoa and then Arizona announced the results of their votes, Karla Bradley, vice chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party, hurriedly ticked off figures written on a yellow notepad.

The count was 37 votes for Obama and 8 for Clinton.

Next to her was Rebecca Gwatney, whose late husband this way:

“My wife, Jill, who you’ll meet soon, who’s drop-dead gorgeous. My wife, Jill, she also has a doctorate degree, which is a problem.” Bill Gwatney, the chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party, was killed on Aug. 13.

Rebecca Gwatney went to Denver in his honor and for most of three days had quietly mourned his loss.

She found her voice Wednesday as she announced the results of the Arkansas ballot.

Standing at a lectern placed in the Arkansas section and surrounded by cameramen, Gwatney reminded the crowd that Arkansas, the “adopted” state of Hillary Clinton, gave the New York senator 70 percent of the vote — a larger share than any other state.

Though the state was unequaled in its “adoration” of the Clintons, Gwatney said, the party would “unite behind Barack Obama and elect him the next president of the United States.”

At that point, Pelosi, who was onstage with party secretary Alice Germond announced, “Arkansas casts 47 votes for Barack Obama.”

That was classic Biden. He’s still said to be head-over-heels in love with her after more than 30 years of marriage, and proud of, if slightly intimidate­d by, her multiple degrees.

Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden, 57, has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware, two master’s degrees, from West Chester University and Villanova University, and a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware. She has been a teacher for more than two decades, including time teaching history to emotionall­y disturbed teenagers. She is a professor of English at Delaware Technical and Community College.

This week, as Joe Biden realizes his dream of being on a national ticket, albeit in the No. 2 slot, Jill Biden is preparing to join a select club of women who have been catapulted from relative privacy to the world stage.

She had been able to live out “No,” said Gwatney. “No.” But by then, her microphone had been turned off and Pelosi had moved on to California and it’s 441 delegates.

Minutes later, when Guam was reporting its results, Germond asked them to repeat their numbers.

“Would you repeat your vote?” she asked, sending members of the Arkansas delegation off into guffaws. “We Democrats want to get our votes just right.”

Jonesboro’s Jason Willett, a state election commission­er who served as Clinton’s Arkansas cowhip, called the miscommuni­cation a “typical DNC” foul-up.

A Democratic Party spokesman said the votes would be recorded for posterity. They were still being tallied Wednesday evening.

Arkansas Democratic Party spokesman Darinda Sharp told The Associate Press that U.S. Reps. Vic Snyder and Marion Berry, both Arkansans, were unable to cast their delegate votes. of the spotlight, even though she was married to a senator, because Biden returned to his Wilmington, Del., home every night by train from Washington. She was never part of the capital scene and not much interested in it.

But she became so dismayed after George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004 that she encouraged her husband to seek the presidency in the 2008 campaign.

Jill Biden grew up in Willow Grove, Pa., a Philadelph­ia suburb, the oldest of four daughters. Their father was a bank teller who became president of a savings and loan; their mother stayed home to raise them.

She started working at 15, telling an interviewe­r last year, “I wanted my own money, my own identity, my own career.”

When Joe Biden first called her that night in 1975, she told him that she had voted for him in 1972. She also knew the tragic story of his wife, Neilia, who was She said Snyder stayed in Little Rock with his pregnant wife, who is under a doctor’s orders to stay in bed, while Berry had to leave the convention early to meet commitment­s back in his east Arkansas district.

Pine Bluff Mayor Carl Redus, a pledged Clinton delegate, had made up his mind to change his vote to Obama before Clinton addressed the convention.

He said his switch was made easier by a talk Clinton gave her delegates before the balloting. Clinton told them “If you vote for me, you vote for Obama,” he said.

“You can’t be anymore straightfo­rward,” Redus said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Clinton formally released her delegates amid shouts of “no” by disappoint­ed supporters. “She doesn’t have the right to release us,” said Massachuse­tts delegate Nancy Saboori. “We’re not little kids to be told what to do in a half-hour.”

Clinton did get hundreds of votes in the roll call before she killed with their baby daughter in 1972 when a truck broadsided their car as they were Christmas shopping. Their two sons, Beau and Hunter, were injured but have recovered.

“Funny thing was, by the time Joe called, she’d almost resolved to quit dating,” Richard Ben Cramer wrote in his political biography, What It Takes, in which he delved into the lives of the candidates running for president in 1988. “She’d married young, it didn’t last, and after that, when she went back to college, well ... she was a senior, but 24 years old.”

Cramer wrote that she was impressed that Biden had showed up in a suit and shook her hand good night. She called her mother that night to say she had finally met a gentleman.

Their lives quickly became intertwine­d, and eventually, Joe Biden’s young sons asked him when “we” were going to get called for Obama to be approved by acclamatio­n.

Completing a roll call vote could make Clinton look bad, reasoned Thurman Metcalf, a delegate and Rogers cosmetolog­ist.

That’s because many Clinton delegates like him decided to back Obama after Clinton’s speech Tuesday night expressing her support for him.

Besides, he said, the party is giving Clinton her due by incorporat­ing most of her health-care plan, including parity for mentalheal­th coverage and the eliminatio­n of rules on pre-existing conditions, into its platform.

Kedrin Edgerson, a Jonesboro logistics manager and Obama delegate, went to the convention with his 73-year-old father, Eugeine.

“We’ve come a long way,” said Edgerson. “I’m more excited for him than I am for me.” Informatio­n for this article was contribute­d by David Espo of The Associated Press. married. He had to ask her five times before she overcame her hesitation at becoming a full-time mother and meeting the public demands of a political spouse.

They were married on June 17, 1977, with Biden’s sons at the altar at the ceremony, at the U.N. chapel. The boys went on the honeymoon, too.

Jill Biden gave up her high school teaching job to raise the boys and the couple’s daughter, Ashley, born in 1981. She returned to work in the mid-1990s at the community college.

“It sounds so trite to say I make a difference, but I really feel, especially in a community college, I can make a difference,” Biden told The News Journal in Wilmington last year.

She went through her doctoral studies under her maiden name. And when students ask of her connection to the senator, she said, she says only that they are related.

 ?? AP/BRADLEY C. BOWER ?? Jill Biden joins her husband Monday in a surprise appearance at the Wilmington, Del., train station that the senator has used for years to commute to Washington.
AP/BRADLEY C. BOWER Jill Biden joins her husband Monday in a surprise appearance at the Wilmington, Del., train station that the senator has used for years to commute to Washington.

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