The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Jill Biden urges support for husband even if voters consider their candidates ‘better’ on the issues

Jill Biden, wife of former vice president Joe Biden, said on Aug. 19 that voters need “to look at who’s going to win this election” against President Trump. (Video: MSNBC/NBC News)

Jill Biden, the wife of former vice president Joe Biden, is urging New Hampshire voters who support other Democratic White House hopefuls to consider backing her husband instead on the basis of “electability” — even if they consider their candidate to be “better” on the issues.

“Your candidate might be better on, I don’t know, health care, than Joe is, but you’ve got to look at who’s going to win this election,” Jill Biden said Monday at a campaign event in Nashua, N.H. “And maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, ‘Okay, I personally like so and so better,’ but your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.”

Her sentiment echoes a message of Biden’s presidential campaign — that he is best positioned to beat President Trump — but typically candidates and their surrogates are not so explicit in acknowledging that others in the field might have more appealing plans on leading issues.

For Joe Biden, some lessons from Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign?

Most polls have shown that the former vice president fares better than others in the crowded Democratic field in hypothetical general election matchups against Trump.

“I know that not all of you are committed to my husband, and I respect that,” Jill Biden said during her Nashua event. “But I want you to think about your candidate, his or her electability, and who’s going to win this race.”

“So I think if your goal — I know my goal — is to beat Donald Trump, we have to have someone who can beat him,” she continued.

Trump’s campaign on Tuesday seized on coverage of Jill Biden’s remarks.

In an Aug. 20 television ad, the Biden campaign made an electability argument and said, "We have to beat Donald Trump." (Video: Joe Biden for President)

Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, shared on Twitter a video of her comments and wrote: “Translation: @JoeBiden is a bad candidate and not really good at this whole running for President thing. But you all be good sheep, listen to your party elders who know better than you and fall in line behind Joe.”

Biden’s campaign is also making an electability argument in its first television ad in Iowa, which debuted Tuesday.

“We know in our bones this election is different,” the narrator says in the 60-second spot. “The stakes are higher. The threat more serious. We have to beat Donald Trump, and all the polls agree Joe Biden is the strongest Democrat to do the job. No one is more qualified.”