Jill Biden is the "tough and loyal" partner to an American politician whose personal tragedies have sometimes overshadowed his accomplishments. But the energetic campaign surrogate is suddenly in the spotlight as her husband Joe becomes the Democratic presidential nominee.
The alliance goes back more than four decades, to when Joe Biden was in a dark place. He had lost his wife and daughter in a car crash in 1972 and was raising his young boys as a widow, commuting daily from Delaware to Washington where he served as a US senator.
Then he met Jill Jacobs, and they married in 1977. They have been a socio-political power center ever since, through two failed presidential runs, his eight years as vice president and the death of his son Beau due to cancer.
"She put us back together," said Biden as he described Jill's impact on the tragedy-scarred family.
"She is so damn tough and loyal."
Biden was speaking in a video that aired Tuesday night during the Democratic National Convention as it formally designated the 77-year-old as the party's presidential nominee to challenge Donald Trump for the White House.
The video ran moments before the 69-year-old Jill Biden gave the biggest speech of her political life, a personal testimonial to her husband's character, capabilities and heart.
"How do you make a broken family whole?" she said of Biden's persistence through adversity, a quality she believes connects him with millions of American families suffering through a deadly coronavirus pandemic, mass layoffs and tensions over racial injustice.
"The same way you make a nation whole," she added. "With love and understanding -- and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith."
- 'A consequential life' -
Jill Biden was born in 1951 and grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania.
A teacher who eventually earned a doctorate in education, she delivered her Tuesday speech live from the very classroom at Brandywine High School in Wilmington, Delaware where she taught English in the 1990s.
She made the case for her husband's presidency in personal terms, while also connecting with Americans worried about sending their children back to school, or grieving over loved ones lost to coronavirus.
"As a mother and a grandmother, as an American, I am heartbroken by the magnitude of this loss -- by the failure to protect our communities," she said, without mentioning Trump.
"Like so many of you, I'm left asking: how do I keep my family safe?"
She found herself in the role of protector in March at a Super Tuesday victory party, when she dramatically fended off two protesters who lunged at her husband on stage.
"We're OK," said Jill reassuringly.
Jill Biden assumed the role of second lady in 2009 when Biden became vice president, participating in multiple high-profile events with first lady Michelle Obama, and developing a comfortable public speaking style.
But ever since Biden rolled out his campaign in May 2019, she has been a particularly forceful surrogate.
She barnstormed early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire and battleground states such as Florida, often campaigning with a vigor that sometimes seemed to exceed her husband's.
She often presents her husband as the candidate who best appeals not only to moderate Democrats, but also to independents and Republicans disappointed with Trump.
"A lot of Republicans have whispered to me: 'Jill, I made a mistake before'" and voted for Trump, she told campaign volunteers in New Hampshire in February.
"'I'm a Republican but I can support Joe,'" she quoted them as saying.
Often headlining her own smaller, intimate events supporting her husband's campaign, Jill Biden has been a stylish, effervescent and effective presence on the trail -- at least until the pandemic brought in-person campaigning to a halt.
She has also steeled herself against the attacks on her husband coming from Trump and his allies.
But she seemed to win over at least one Republican Tuesday.
"Tonight, Jill Biden did a very good job representing herself and Joe in the causes they believe in," tweeted Senator Lindsey Graham.
"She's an outstanding person who has led a consequential life."