Jill Biden had her own awkward "please clap" moment

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Jill Biden and Jeb! Bush have something in common now. Both have experienced awkward moments during a presidential campaign when an audience didn’t respond to a laugh line. Instead of ignoring the fact that the audience didn’t laugh, both admonished their audiences and shamed applause out of them.


Biden delivered a line that she thought would bring approval from her audience on Thursday but instead, it showed how out-of-touch she is in her Washington, D.C. bubble. She was speaking at the Reagan Institute Summit on Education (RISE) in Washington, D.C. No one clapped at her applause line.

“I’ve visited red states and blue states and I’ve found that the common values that unite us are deeper than our divisions,” she said before taking a moment to pause.

Upon receiving no reaction from the crowd, the first lady added, “I thought you might clap for that.” The crowd promptly complied.

Imagine being so thin-skinned that she stopped and shamed her audience for not clapping when she thought they would clap. She was expecting trained seals, I guess, instead of people capable of thinking for themselves. It seems to me that the reason no one clapped at that line is because it doesn’t ring true for most people in Biden’s America. She should blame her husband for the audience’s apathetic reaction. She should have just gracefully continued on with the speech, but she didn’t do that. What Jill wants, Jill gets.

The country is deeply divided and politics is a big part of that. Joe Biden pledged to unite Americans and “heal” the nation when he ran for president. He has accomplished the exact opposite. The country is even more divided than before he became president. Joe Biden is incapable of speaking to reporters or making speeches without slamming Republicans, especially when he makes a point to call out “MAGA Republicans”, a term he likes to brag about coining. So, when Jill Biden references red states and blue states, she is acknowledging the divided country. No one is in the mood to applaud continued division. The touchy-feely lingo about shared values doesn’t cut it, as she found out. It doesn’t ring true.


This was a conference for “education leaders” from across the country. The speakers included former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, currently running in the Republican presidential primary, and Maryland Governor Wes Moore, a Democrat. You may have heard that Jill Biden is a professor at a community college in northern Virginia. Don’t forget to call her Dr. Biden.

“RISE will examine policy and practice from early childhood through postsecondary education and beyond. The imperative for education reform is even more salient as the United States emerges from the global pandemic,” the Reagan Foundation said on its website of the two-day conference, which was held Wednesday and Thursday. “We must answer the call to modernize our education system and prepare for the challenges of the 22nd century.”

Jill’s awkward moment reminds people of Jeb! Bush’s “please clap” moment in 2016 as he ran in the GOP presidential primary. It was in New Hampshire, normally Bush-friendly territory, that Jeb! was trying to deliver a message that the next president should work for peace, or something. It was mostly a slam against Trump’s bombastic personality.

“I think the next president needs to be a lot quieter but send a signal that we’re prepared to act in the national security interest of this country, to get back into the business of a more peaceful world,” Bush passionately said, subtly swiping at then-Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

Facing a lengthy silence from the crowd, Bush then said, “Please clap.” The plea from Bush — the son of former President George H.W. Bush and the younger brother of former President George W. Bush — prompted applause and some cheers.


Trump won the New Hampshire primary that year with 35% of the vote. Jeb! came in third with 11% of the vote.

When a message doesn’t resonate with an audience, they don’t clap. Shaming them into clapping doesn’t win hearts and minds. Jill Biden has a history of tone-deaf moments on the campaign trail. Her speeches are to help her husband’s re-election campaign, that much is clear. Biden is deeply unpopular and a majority of Democrats don’t want him to run in 2024. Yet, he persists. Jill is a driving force in that decision. She is out-of-touch with the majority of Americans, as she learned the hard way on Thursday.

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