Just Asking: Jill Biden talks about 2016, teaching and running with the Secret Service


(Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
Writer and editor

Jill Biden, 62, has a doctorate in education and two master’s degrees.

What’s one thing about being second lady that you really dislike? Besides having to do interviews like this?

Joe Heim joined The Post in 1999. He is currently a staff writer for the Metro section's Local Enterprise team. He also writes Just Asking, a weekly Q&A column in the Sunday magazine and is the paper's resident Downton Abbey expert. View Archive

Well, I’m a runner, and I have to run with Secret Service — even though they can run twice as fast. It took me a while to get used to running with them, because I love the solitary aspect of it. So I have two rules. First, I can’t hear their feet. And second, I can’t see their shadows.

You’ve been in this high-profile position now for six years, and you’ve done that without really making any mistakes. ...

[Laughs] That you’ve seen!

Well, you’ve never said anything that got you in hot water. Does your husband ever ask you for your advice on how you do that?

No. I mean, he’s a politician. He loves politics. I’m not a politician. I am an English teacher. I should be the one asking him.

You teach full time at NOVA community college. Are you a tough grader?

I think I am a tough grader, because I feel like it’s my job to teach them to write well. I hope my students say I’m a fair teacher.

Your students probably know better than to complain about their grades. What grade would you give yourself in your role as second lady?

Oh, gosh. That’s a hard one. I hope I would be a B-plus, A-minus. It seems self-serving to say, “Oh, I’m an A.” But I think I love the role. I try to do as much as I can. I look at it as such a great opportunity. When we were elected I said to Joe: “I will never waste any minute of this. I have so much that I can talk about or maybe have influence on.”

We’ve had presidents named Tom, Dick and Harry, but we’ve never had one named Joe. Do you think that will change in a couple of years?

You never know.

Your husband has said he can’t think of any reason why he shouldn’t run for president. Can you think of any?

Hmm. Not really. I guess the White House is kind of confining. I mean, we live in the vice president’s residence. At least I can get out and go places. And we have acres and acres.

Let’s say you did move from one part of Washington to another. Is there one thing from the Naval Observatory home that you’d want to bring with you to the White House?

Well, I couldn’t bring the art … but maybe I could? We have beautiful art. That’s one of the perks, I think, is that I get to [request art from] the National Gallery, or I can call an artist. Now we have a lot of Delaware artists. So, really, I love the art in the residence.

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