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Jill Biden is hot on the campaign trail, while the president's approval lacks

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Biden goes to Florida today to campaign for Democrats in the midterms. This past weekend, though, he was at home in Delaware, and his wife, Jill Biden, was the one with the packed campaign schedule. Here's NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: It's late afternoon on Long Island, N.Y., and first lady Jill Biden is at her fifth political event of the weekend. She starts her stump speech with something a lot of people can relate to.

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JILL BIDEN: I'm a teacher, as well as a mom and a nana. So I stay organized, and I run my life by to-do list.

KEITH: It's a thread that runs through Biden's remarks. Here she was on Saturday in New Hampshire.

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BIDEN: This is an enormous race, but it comes down to things as small as saying to that mom or student or grocery store clerk, put the word vote in big, bold letters at the top of your to-do list.

KEITH: The first lady is one of the administration's most requested speakers this cycle, with a pitch that is light on policy and heavy on humanity.

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BIDEN: Today, I'd like to share a story from my life.

KEITH: Biden describes the difficulties faced by a friend who got pregnant when they were teenagers, before abortion was legal. Then Biden talks about how shocked she was by the Supreme Court's recent decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

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BIDEN: It was devastating to me. How could we go back to that?

KEITH: While President Biden's midterm campaigning has been constrained by poor approval ratings, Jill Biden doesn't have that baggage.

XOCHITL HINOJOSA: She knows how to connect with people. She understands the - you know, the issues that they care about.

KEITH: Xochitl Hinojosa is a Democratic consultant and says the first lady isn't perceived as overtly political.

HINOJOSA: And so I do think it is, like, helpful to have someone who, in a time when people have political fatigue, to kind of go in there and make a different case.

KEITH: Former Jill Biden press secretary Michael LaRosa says it isn't only this first lady. Just read the headlines.

MICHAEL LAROSA: You know, in 1990, you know, Washington Post - "Barbara, On The Stump;" The Chicago Tribune '06 - "Please, Send Laura;" NBC in 2014, you know, "Better Half: First Lady Campaigns Where President Has Not."

KEITH: And history is repeating itself as this first lady also campaigns where the president has not.

Tamara Keith, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.