WASHINGTON — First lady Jill Biden was deeply offended and personally motivated to issue a response after special counsel Robert Hur released his report last week alleging that the president could not remember when their son died and struggled to recall other key details, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
As Joe Biden’s wife for more than 46 years, she is considered the president’s most trusted adviser and fiercest defender. That’s why, the people said, she played a role in crafting a deeply personal statement that the Biden re-election campaign shared Saturday evening, a rare occurrence among the more standard campaign correspondence to supporters.
In the email, the first lady called the criticism of the president’s memory “inaccurate” and nothing more than “personal political attacks.”
“I don’t know what this Special Counsel was trying to achieve,” she wrote. “We should give everyone grace, and I can’t imagine someone would try to use our son’s death to score political points. If you’ve experienced a loss like that, you know that you don’t measure it in years — you measure it in grief. May 30th is a day forever etched on our hearts. It shattered me, it shattered our family.”
Jill Biden’s message Saturday quickly raised more money than any other email the campaign has sent out since the president launched his re-election campaign in April, a campaign official said. The person would not disclose how much it raised.
The lengthy statement did not include a specific financial ask to supporters, but it did include a donate button at the end of the note, which was signed: “Love, Jill.”
A person close to the first lady said she wanted to put the reference to Beau Biden’s death in “real American mom terms.”
Biden’s response was “from her heart” because she considered the claim that the president did not know when their son passed away “beyond the pale,” the source said, adding that she also felt the “attacks” on his age were “flat inaccurate.”
“She wanted to make clear that the American people benefit every day from each of his 81 years,” the person said. “He does more in an hour than most people do in a day — she sees that more than anyone.”
The first lady echoed an argument the president and Vice President Kamala Harris both made after the report was released, which was to call the report “politically motivated” and “gratuitous.”
The decision to speak out was an easy one for the first lady, according to a senior campaign adviser who said she did not hesitate.
“If the special counsel is going to use her dead son as a political weapon, she’s going to have something to say about it — so she said it,” the adviser said.
Jill Biden is expected to be an active campaigner and fundraiser for her husband in the next nine months, according to two people familiar with her schedule.
“As she has been for all of the President’s campaigns, the First Lady will be an effective messenger on the trail,” Biden campaign spokesman Seth Schuster said. “As a teacher, mom, and grandmother, she’s uniquely positioned to connect with key constituencies across the country and speak to the President’s vision for America. The First Lady’s trusted voice will be crucial in mobilizing the voters we need to win in November.”