President BidenJoe BidenHoyer: House To Vote On COVID-19 Relief Bill On Friday Pence Meets With Senior GOP Study Committee Members Powell Rejects GOP Inflation Fears MORE he has leaned heavily toward his role as the nation’s chief empathizer as he grapples with multiple tragedies during his first month in office.
Biden will travel to Texas on Friday with the first lady Jill bidenJill BidenBiden to travel to Texas on Friday Biden mourns 500,000 American lives lost to coronavirus Biden to order half-mast flags to mark 500,000 virus deaths MORE as the state grapples with the effects of rare and deadly winter storms.
The trip follows a moment of silence Monday and a tribute by White House candlelight to the 500,000 Americans who died of COVID-19. Standing in the Cross Hall of the White House, Biden addressed the country not just as president, but as a man deeply familiar with loss.
“I know it very well. I know what it’s like not to be there when it happens, ”said Biden, standing next to the first lady, as well as Vice President Harris and her husband. Doug emhoffDoug EmhoffBiden mourns 500,000 American lives lost to coronavirus Biden to order half-mast flags to mark 500,000 virus deaths Pelosi is silent for a moment as the US approaches 500,000 COVID-19 deaths PLUS.
“I know what it feels like when you’re there, holding their hand, as they look into your eyes and scurry away. That black hole in your chest, you feel like you’re being sucked into it, ”he said.
Biden, who led his presidential campaign to unite a country grappling with a deadly pandemic, has been touched by grief multiple times throughout his political career, losing his wife and daughter in a car accident, and decades later, her son for brain cancer.
His political brand has increasingly been one in which his supporters have chosen the 78-year-old president as a messenger of empathy and the right man for the moment.
Biden’s comments on Monday were in sharp contrast to the approach his predecessor, the former President TrumpDonald Trump Romney: ‘Pretty Sure’ Trump Would Win GOP Nomination In 2024 Should He Run For President Pence Huddles With Senior GOP Study Committee Members Trump Says ‘Without A doubt’ Tiger Woods Will Return After Crash MORE, led to the pandemic.
“Empathy is the superpower that helped set Joe Biden apart in the primaries and in his general election showdown against Donald Trump,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne. “It’s no wonder this will be a critical part of your profile as president a month from now.”
Trump was regularly criticized for his lack of empathy when speaking out about the pandemic, which he regularly downplayed. He made no special effort to mark the lives lost to the coronavirus, which Trump often viewed as a political crisis that blamed China, where the first clusters of cases were found.
When the United States surpassed 100 billion deaths last May, Trump tweeted his condolences a day later.
Biden has made a concerted effort to acknowledge the pain of the pandemic. On the eve of his inauguration, Biden participated in a memorial for those who had died from the coronavirus at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.
“This is part of a return to normalcy,” said Doug Heye, former Republican National Committee spokesman, pointing to Biden’s visit over the weekend to former Republican Senator Bob Dole, who recently revealed his diagnosis of stage lung cancer. four. “That’s in stark contrast to what we’ve seen in the last four years and it was a selling point for Biden in the campaign.”
The challenge for Biden and his administration, Heye said, would also be to communicate hopeful messages that motivate enough Americans to get the coronavirus vaccine so the country can return to a normal standard of living.
Biden’s drive for unity and compassion has also been analyzed in his nomination of Neera tandenNeera TandenHaaland Courts Moderate During Tense Senate Confirmation Hearing On Money: Schumer Urges Democrats To Stand Together On Bill .9T | Collins Discards Republican Party Support for Biden’s Aid Plan | Powell fights inflation fears Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on the .9T bill MORE to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Lawmakers opposing his nomination have complained that his earlier incendiary tweets do not represent the unity that Biden championed in the election campaign.
“Given how much they have supported each other, and I think rightly so, that he is trying to make America good again and it will be that commanding comfort that Americans have considered as president … it will be even more important to him. always stand that line because when you don’t, those examples will be apparent, ”Heye said.
Those who have worked with Biden describe him as someone who genuinely cares about others and who has tried to make personal connections with those he knows throughout his career, regardless of their background or identity.
During the campaign, he was known to give his phone number to grieving mothers. He will offer reassuring words on the ropes and at events. He is even known for praying with his followers.
Moe Vela, a former aide to Biden during the Obama administration, said that advisers would often give Biden a 10-minute window when he walked around the back of a restaurant through the kitchen, because he would always stop and say ” hello “to staff.
“They love you first and ask questions later,” Vela said of the president and the first lady, describing them as “unconditional lovers.”
Biden has taken a noticeably behind-the-scenes approach to the situation in Texas and the surrounding states amid extreme winter weather. He approved emergency declarations in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma and held phone calls with governors last week, signing a major disaster declaration for Texas on Saturday that authorized more federal resources for response.
While the White House said it was regularly briefed on the situation, Biden has yet to comment extensively on the storms, and Friday’s visit to Houston will represent his first opportunity to do so.
At the White House press conference on Tuesday, the White House press secretary Jen psakiJen PsakiHillicon Valley: Businesses Urge Action on SolarWinds Hearing | Facebook lifts ban on news in Australia | Biden to Crack Russia in ‘Weeks’ Night Health Care: COVID-19 Vaccine Makers Promise Massive Supply Increase | Biden’s Health Candidate Faces First Senate Test | White House Defends Reopening of Migrant Children’s Facilities Ocasio-Cortez Criticizes Opening of Migrant Children’s Facilities Under Biden MORE said Biden is expected to meet with local leaders to discuss winter storm relief efforts, the progress communities are making toward recovery, and “the incredible resilience displayed by the people of Houston and Texas.” .
A longtime Biden aide added that “there is no one better to bring words of comfort” to a state reeling from storms amid a pandemic.
“It has become a cliché, but he was made for this,” said the assistant.