First Lady Jill Biden speaks at a National Education Association event at the White House in July 2023. A sign behind her reads, "Supporting educators, supporting students." Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Chris Christie’s Crude Swipe at Jill Biden Backfires Big-Time

The second Republican debate was an unwatchable mess, with seven candidates who were not Donald Trump (and therefore probably irrelevant) clamoring to talk over each other with promises to invade Mexico and pass nationwide anti-trans legislation. It was difficult to stand out, but at least one voice rose above the cacophony of bad ideas, bigotry, and disinformation. Chris Christie made a comment so crass and so wrongheaded, that the whole internet seemed to collectively recoil in horror.

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In a rant about teachers unions, the former governor of New Jersey and one-time Trump lackey went after previously untouchable First Lady Jill Biden. “When you have the president of the United States sleeping with a member of the teachers union, there is no chance that you can take the stranglehold away from the teachers union every day,” he said, with emphasis, for some reason, on the word “sleeping.”

Gross!

First of all, literally no one from anywhere on the political spectrum wants to think about the sex life of our octogenarian president, aside from maybe Joe and Jill Biden themselves, but let’s not even go there.

Aside from that, drawing attention to President Joe Biden’s longstanding marriage of more than four decades can only help him. Dr. Jill Biden is one of the most popular political figures in the country, one of only two American politicians to score a positive rating in a recent Gallup poll (the other was Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, for inexplicable reasons).

And yes, Dr. Biden is an educator, one who has continued to teach writing at Northern Virginia Community College even while serving as a highly visible and accomplished first lady. She uses her position to advocate for a range of educational causes, from supporting early learning programs to making higher education more affordable.

Although right-wing extremists have done their best to attack and undermine schools, the vast majority of Americans still respect and value teachers and broadly see them as overworked and underpaid. Jill Biden has said that she became a teacher to help older students who struggle with reading. “I’ve always loved to read, and I wanted to help them find that same joy that I found in books,” she told Good Housekeeping. That’s the woman Christie decided to go after!

Christie also helpfully reminded us that Jill Biden is a card-carrying member of the National Education Association, along with about 3 million teachers, parents, and students who care about public schools. Like teachers and FLOTUS, unions are also extremely popular, with two-thirds of Americans supporting organized labor, so it’s really not clear what Christie’s strategy was here, other than to look like a vulgar bully.

President Biden chose to emphasize his support for unions by becoming the first president to walk a picket line, joining striking auto workers earlier this week in a move that earned him widespread praise. If Christie’s comment hadn’t been so offensively worded, Biden might even thank Christie for drawing more attention to his support for organized labor.

Given all that, it’s no wonder Jill Biden fans and pretty much anyone with a modicum of decency leapt to her defense last night.

Unfortunately for Christie and his misogynistic comments, women (and workers!) vote. In the words of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, we’ll see him (well, probably not him) at the ballot box.

(featured image: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)


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Erika Wittekind
Erika Wittekind (she/her) is a contributing writer covering politics and news and has two decades of experience in local news reporting, freelance writing, and nonfiction editing. Her hobbies and special interests include hiking, dancing in the kitchen, trying to raise empathetic teen boys, and keeping plants alive. Find her on Mastodon at @erikalyn.newsie.social.