Suddenly, a protester rushed the stage wielding a “Let Dairy Die” placard. With the vegan protester just a few feet from her husband, Jill Biden clutched her husband’s right hand and interposed her body between him and the woman lunging at him.
About 10 seconds later, another anti-dairy industry protester stormed the stage. Reacting with lightning speed, the former second lady swung around, extended her arms, grabbed her by the wrists and then blocked her with a stiff-arm.
Wincing, she pushed the woman back as her husband and sister-in-law looked on with concern during the sudden confrontation.
She was soon joined by Symone D. Sanders, the candidate’s senior adviser, who tackled the woman in a waist lock, and along with other staffers wrestled the protester offstage.
“We’re okay,” Jill Biden said after the protesters were removed from the event. “We’re okay.”
Jill Biden’s physical defense of her husband, captured in a photo and video that have since gone viral, turned into one of the most discussed moments of a Super Tuesday that reshaped the former vice president’s chances against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a matter of hours.
“What a night,” she tweeted.
On Twitter, where she was a leading trending topic into early Wednesday, observers noted her “fearless” display in defending her husband in an unpredictable situation.
“I don’t care what you think about Joe Biden,” one person observed, “Jill Biden is a badass.”
Jill Biden for Secretary of Defense— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) March 4, 2020
“I broke a nail,” she tweeted.
“Did not have ‘Jill Biden trucks a vegan’ on my Super Tuesday Bingo card,” said Josh Billinson, a social media strategist for BuzzFeed News.
Patrick T. Fallon, a freelance photojournalist based in Los Angeles, was standing feet away from the Bidens when the second protester jumped on stage. On assignment for Bloomberg Politics, Fallon snapped a photo that has since been shared thousands of times.
“This is probably going to be my most tweeted photo of 2020,” Fallon tweeted.
Some joked how the physicality and technique exhibited by Jill Biden and Symone Sanders resembled that of something they’d see in the NFL.
“Jill Biden using good pass-pro technique,” noted New York magazine writer Jonathan Chait. “Moves her feet, extends her arms, keeps balanced and stays between rusher and Joe. Should have been a left tackle.”
If any NFL teams are scouting for a right guard, Jill Biden is available.— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) March 4, 2020
Jill Biden is a linebacker— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) March 4, 2020
Others, however, were quick to note that the disruption in Los Angeles reflected how Joe Biden should be given Secret Service protection at this stage of the campaign. Biden was entitled to a Secret Service detail for up to six months after he left office in January 2017, and the Department of Homeland Security has not reopened that protection since he’s been a candidate.
On MSNBC, Robert Gibbs, former press secretary under President Barack Obama, said he hoped a move would happen as soon as Wednesday for Biden and Bernie Sanders.
“Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden need Secret Service protection,” said Gibbs, adding such security should come “in the next 24 to 48 hours.” “What happened tonight was nothing short of genuinely scary.”
But not everyone shared Gibbs’s sentiment, as some people thought the Biden campaign had things under control.
“Who needs secret service detail when you have a group of powerful women?” singer Ricky Davila said.
Her blocking move on Tuesday night was not the first time this campaign season that Jill Biden has had to fight off a protester. In February, on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, she popped up from her chair and blocked a heckler from getting any closer to her husband before escorting him out. When asked about the incident afterward, she laughed, crediting her Philadelphia upbringing for her toughness.
“I’m a good Philly girl,” she said last month.
The New Hampshire performance was not lost on Dan Pfeiffer, co-host of “Pod Save America,” on Tuesday night.
“Related: Jill Biden is from Philly,” tweeted the former Obama adviser.