First Lady Jill Biden makes an impromptu campaign stop on Mercer Island
First Lady Jill Biden greets a group of kids on Mercer Island prior to arriving at campaign reception (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Good evening, hap­py autumn, and wel­come back to NPI’s con­tin­u­ing cov­er­age of First Lady Jill Biden’s Sep­tem­ber 2023 vis­it to the Seat­tle area!

Not long ago, FLOTUS, as Dr. Biden is referred to in the lin­go of the White House press corps, com­plet­ed the final stop on her pub­lic itin­er­ary for the day: a Biden Vic­to­ry fund recep­tion at a lake­side home on Mer­cer Island.

It was the sec­ond of two cam­paign events the First Lady head­lined today for the Biden-Har­ris cam­paign and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. I chron­i­cled both on behalf of the White House press corps as the edi­to­r­i­al pool reporter.

The jour­ney to Mer­cer Island began in Shore­line, our pre­vi­ous stop. The First Lady’s motor­cade depart­ed at 4:48 PM Pacif­ic and head­ed south.

A lit­tle more than ten min­utes before the time adver­tised on the First Lady’s sched­ule for the sec­ond recep­tion (6 PM), we were on the island.

As we approached the event loca­tion, we passed a neigh­bor wav­ing and hold­ing a big sign that read “We Love Jill Biden.” At about 5:55 PM, a very short dis­tance from our des­ti­na­tion, we made an impromp­tu stop so that the First Lady could greet a group of enthu­si­as­tic kids from the neighborhood.

Appar­ent­ly, Dr. Biden saw the crowd of young peo­ple and want­ed to say hello.

I was invit­ed to wit­ness this and took sev­er­al pho­tos. You can see for your­self how excit­ed the kids and their par­ents were to see the First Lady:

First Lady Jill Biden makes an impromptu campaign stop on Mercer Island
First Lady Jill Biden greets a group of kids on Mer­cer Island pri­or to arriv­ing at cam­paign recep­tion (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Biden briefly dis­cussed her vis­it to Mer­cer Island and then explain that she will be get­ting in her plane to go to Cal­i­for­nia after she departs the neighborhood.

One child joy­ful­ly said, “Wel­come to Plan­et Earth!” in response, prompt­ing a big round of laugh­ter and chuck­les from all of the adults in the vicinity.

The First Lady then posed for a pho­to with the kids (sev­er­al of whom were wear­ing Girl Scout uni­forms) pri­or to get­ting back into the motorcade.

We were on the move again moments lat­er and it took all of two min­utes for us to fin­ish our jour­ney. After a brief hold, I was escort­ed to the back of the home of Joe and Judy Schock­en, who host­ed this sec­ond Biden Vic­to­ry Fund recep­tion, accord­ing to the cam­paign. Their prop­er­ty abuts Lake Wash­ing­ton, with a dock and shore­line. Most of the guests were seat­ed for the remarks.

l was in posi­tion to observe at 6:19 PM. The sun was get­ting low as the event began, cast­ing the yard in a beau­ti­ful evening light.

The First Lady walked out at 6:22 PM to be intro­duced by Joe Schocken.

U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Adam Smith, and Kim Schri­er (who each rep­re­sent slices of East King Coun­ty) were present. They were acknowl­edged and thanked dur­ing the intro­duc­tion along with the event’s many co-hosts, such as for­mer Ambas­sador Suzi LeVine, who couldn’t attend.

An eagle flew over­head just before Dr. Biden stepped to the podi­um, which caught the atten­tion of many of the atten­dees. Many audi­bly mar­veled at the sight. The First Lady got a stand­ing ova­tion and began speak­ing at 6:28 PM.

“I think that was a sign, that eagle,” she said.

As in Shore­line (see my pre­vi­ous report here), Dr. Biden asked if any­one was from Philadel­phia, and two peo­ple indi­cat­ed that they were.

And again, as at the pre­vi­ous event, she recount­ed meet­ing Pres­i­dent Joe Biden, their first date, and Joe Biden’s many mar­riage proposals.

“I knew if I said yes to Joe, it had to be for­ev­er,” the First Lady said.

“Over the years I’ve been con­tin­u­al­ly inspired by his resilience and his optimism.”

“Any­one can tell you what they want to do. Joe can tell you what he’s done.”

The First Lady high­light­ed many of the same accom­plish­ments she tout­ed in Shore­line (notably, the Infla­tion Reduc­tion Act and its cli­mate action pro­vi­sions, Jus­tice Jack­son’s con­fir­ma­tion, cre­at­ing jobs for Amer­i­cans), but also declared that Joe Biden had restored Amer­i­ca’s cred­i­bil­i­ty on the world stage.

She men­tioned her recent trip to New York and empha­sized how many peo­ple came up to her and said how thank­ful they were to see wise lead­er­ship at the helm of the Unit­ed States again.

Refer­ring to the Trump years, she drew a con­trast with the pre­vi­ous admin­is­tra­tion, denounc­ing “U.S. pol­i­cy dic­tat­ed by late night tweet­storms,” “relent­less attacks on our insti­tu­tions” and “con­tempt for the rule of law.”

The First Lady framed the options fac­ing vot­ers in the forth­com­ing 2024 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion as a choice between “chaos, cri­sis, and cor­rup­tion, or strong and steady lead­er­ship that actu­al­ly gets things done.”

“You helped put him in the White House last elec­tion, and we need your help to fin­ish the job. I want to ask you to start now and talk to your friends about what’s at stake in this elec­tion. I want you to talk about how much my hus­band Joe Biden has deliv­ered for Amer­i­ca,” she said.

The First Lady then asked atten­dees to remem­ber how they felt the morn­ing after the Novem­ber 2016 elec­tion, repeat­ing her Shore­line comments.

The end of the 2024 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cycle is more than a year away, but Dr. Biden urged Biden Vic­to­ry Fund donors to get engaged now.

“I know it’s ear­ly, but we’re going to start ear­ly,” she said.

She con­clud­ed with (what sound­ed to me like, word for word) the same clos­ing line from the Shore­line event and got anoth­er stand­ing ovation.

The press van sep­a­rat­ed from the motor­cade and depart­ed from the recep­tion at 6:42 PM, while the First Lady was still min­gling with guests.

Dr. Biden is next head­ed to Cal­i­for­nia for the sec­ond leg of this West Coast trip, which will include cam­paign recep­tions in Los Ange­les and San Diego.

That’s it from the NPI team today! We hope you enjoyed our cov­er­age of the First Lady’s Sep­tem­ber 2023 vis­it to the Emer­ald City.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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