Jill Biden under klieg lights as she fronts for Obama

AP News
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Posted: Sep 09, 2015 8:32 PM
Jill Biden under klieg lights as she fronts for Obama

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — All the best politicians know that a good recovery can take the sting out of the inevitable flub.

Serving as the warmup act to President Barack Obama on Wednesday, vice presidential spouse Jill Biden managed to mangle the pronunciation of her hosts at Macomb Community College. More than once.

But all was forgiven when Biden kept trying until she got it right — MAY-come, MAY-comb, Mah-COMB — as students groaned and murmured at her repeated goofs.

"Ooh, you're correcting the teacher," exclaimed Biden, a fulltime community college teacher.

It's not just Joe Biden who's under intense scrutiny as the vice president considers running for president. His wife is under the microscope, too.

And in her star turn next to Obama in Michigan, Biden found herself juggling multiple roles as teacher, policy advocate and political wife.

In an eight-minute speech, Biden confessed that she'd been grading college essays aboard Air Force One en route to Michigan, took on a new role as chair of an advisory board promoting the idea of free community college and delivered the requisite introduction of the president as "an incredible leader who recognizes the value of community college."

She also worked in a plug for "my husband, Joe, the vice president" as another strong advocate for education and skills training.

Obama, in turn, gave a shout-out to "my favorite community college professor, Dr. Jill Biden."

"Her husband's not so bad either," Obama added. "He's OK. Love Joe Biden."

Biden had a wisecrack of his own Wednesday evening during a reception in Washington for Jewish leaders. "The president has stolen my wife," he said, "and I don't like it."

Ordinarily, such interplay wouldn't have attracted much attention. But with the vice president mulling a presidential campaign, every word and move is watched for deeper meaning.

Biden is said to share her husband's concern about the family's emotional readiness for another campaign following the recent death of their son Beau, although her spokesman has said she supports the vice president in his career.

Student Ross Neba, who watched Biden's speech, said she came across as friendly and down to earth.

"If you didn't know she was the wife of a vice president, you'd think she was just one of the teachers," said Neba, who lives in the Detroit suburb of Eastpointe.

A politician trying to connect with voters wouldn't want it any other way.

And when Obama and Biden climbed the steps of Air Force One to depart Michigan, both paused and turned at the top, to wave in sync to the crowd.

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Associated Press writers Jeff Karoub in Warren, Michigan, and Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac