President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden plan to give themselves a romantic little Christmas.
The pair appeared on Monday Drew Barrymore Show in what was their first joint interview on daytime TV. They talked about his sweet Christmas gifting tradition – and the enduring love between them after 45 years of marriage.
“One thing Joe gives me every year is a poem,” the 71-year-old professor of English and writing told Barrymore. “He has a book he bought me and he writes a poem every year.”
Barrymore asked if the president, 80, is writing it in person, and he replied, “Of course. There’s a lot to write about,” grabbing his wife’s hand. However, he joked that the poem “doesn’t quite do it” since he also buys her gifts. She said he once gave her a “full rose garden” for one of her birthdays, adding, “He pretty much got it right.”
Because he didn’t get a perfect score in gift-giving, he said, “Oh, man. Everybody knows I love her more than she loves me.”
The pair traveled back in time and recounted how they met. He was a widower after his first wife, Neilia, and daughter, Naomi, were killed in the 1972 car accident that his young sons, Beau and Hunter, survived. Meanwhile, Jill had divorced her first husband. The future POTUS and FLOTUS were set up on a blind date in 1975 by Joe’s youngest brother – and he proposed five times before she agreed to marry him, which she did in 1977.
“When I first started dating her, I knew this was the woman. I really did,” he said. “Only twice in my life have I ever fallen in love. Both times I knew right away. I’m not kidding.”
He said Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, and Hunter were instrumental in Jill saying yes to the Delaware senator. “My boys – our boys – were young [about 6 and 7] and they came in and said… ‘Dad, we were talking. We think we should marry Jill.’ Swear to God,” Joe recalled.
After striking out four times, the winning proposal came after he returned from attempting to see Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
“I came back, got off the plane in Philadelphia, drove straight to her apartment, knocked on the door,” he recalls. “[She] said, “Oh, Joe, come in.” I said, “No… You learned my Irish… I’ll ask you again… You don’t have to say when, but if you say no, I understand, and that’s it.” I looked at her and said, “Will you marry me?” She goes [after taking a minute], ‘OKAY.’ Swear to God.”
Joe said he heard from his sister, who was friends with Jill, why Jill changed her mind. “‘She told me she was falling in love with the boys,'” he recalls his sibling saying.
Jill said her hesitation was because, “I had to be absolutely sure this marriage was going to work because [the brothers] had lost their mother and they had lost their sister. I knew it had to work because they had lost so much. They had to feel that this marriage was going to work.”
Joe said that before marrying Jill, he asked her how she could marry him, knowing how much he had loved his first wife. “She said, ‘Because you loved so deeply, you can love that way again,'” he recalled. “I will never forget it.”
Joe said the June 1977 wedding, at the United Nations Chapel in NYC, involved the two boys.
“When we sat there and [the officiant] said, ‘Who is taking this woman?’ Both boys got up and spontaneously walked to the altar,” Joe said. “It wasn’t planned… We were both surprised and happy.”
She added: “We got married as a family.”
They also all spent the wedding night together – the couple took the guys to see Annie.
“She’s also my best friend,” he added. “Really. You can tell her anything. She’s got a spine like a ramrod. She has. You don’t want to mess with me with this woman.” [by my side].”
Later, the pair took part in the show’s “The Final 5” segment, in which Jill answered questions and Joe had to guess her answers. Some things we learned: Her favorite place in the White House is the Truman balcony. One snack she likes to sneak into the White House kitchen is French fries — though he guessed wine and stuck to his answer. (“I think you think of wine as a snack, too,” he told the first lady.) Jill said her husband’s most annoying habit is leaving his reading light on at night.
To keep things light, it ended with who said “I love you” first in their relationship – and that was Joe, of course.
“Oh, that’s easy – me,” he said. “I said it first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth.”