Teacher Jill Biden to succeed ex-model Melania Trump as First Lady

Election 2020 Jill Biden
Election 2020 Jill Biden (AP)
22:29pm, Sat 07 Nov 2020
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Teacher Dr Jill Biden will succeed former model Melania Trump as First Lady of the United States – but how will she differ in the role known as Flotus for short?

Here is a look at the two women’s lives and their different paths to the White House.

– Backgrounds

Mrs Trump was born Melanija Knavs in 1970 in the Slovenian industrial town of Sevnica. Her father Viktor was a car dealer while her mother Amalija worked in a textile factory. They lived in an eight-storey building in what was then a part of Communist Yugoslavia.

Born Jill Jacobs in 1951, Dr Biden – who describes herself as an introvert – is the oldest of five sisters, and was raised by Bonny and Donald Jacobs just outside Philadelphia in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.

– Careers

Mrs Trump’s fashion career was launched when she moved to the Slovenian capital Ljubljana for high school, and a photographer spotted her in the street. She modelled in Milan, Paris and other fashion hotspots, becoming proficient in English, German, French and Italian in addition to Slovenian and Serbo-Croatian, which was spoken across Yugoslavia. She changed her name to Melania Knauss and settled in New York in 1996. According to her profile on the White House website, Mrs Trump is “first and foremost a mother and wife”.

Election 2020 Biden (AP)

Dr Biden has been an educator for more than 30 years and earned a Doctorate in Education from the University of Delaware in 2007. She also has two Masters’ degrees which she completed while working and raising a family. When she was Second Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017 she continued to teach English full-time at a community college in Virginia. She has previously said she plans to continue teaching if she becomes First Lady.

– Families

In 1998, Mrs Trump met her future husband at a party in Manhattan where the newly separated Mr Trump asked for her telephone number. She has said she rebuffed his initial advance because he was with a date that night. But by the next year, they were a couple. The pair got married in January 2005, and had their son Barron in 2006, the year she became a US citizen. She is the third wife of Mr Trump and 24 years his junior.

Nato Leaders Meeting (PA Archive)

Dr Biden met the future US President Joe Biden in 1975 and they married in June 1977. Mr Biden’s first wife Neilia and baby daughter Naomi died in a car accident in 1972, which also left surviving sons Beau and Hunter injured. Dr Biden helped raise the two boys before giving birth to daughter Ashley in 1981. More than 40 years later in 2015, Beau died of a brain tumour aged 46. Dr Biden is now a grandmother.

– Interests

Mrs Trump has a passion for the arts, architecture, design, fashion and beauty, according to her Facebook profile in 2016. The profile says this passion “can only be surpassed by her dedication to helping others”. The White House website says she focuses her time on “the many issues affecting children”. She spends much of her time meeting children who are patients at hospitals and care centres, the site says.

On her Facebook profile, Dr Biden describes herself as a “lifelong educator, military mother, grandmother, sister, author, and wife”. As Second Lady, her work included bringing attention to the sacrifices made by military families, highlighting the importance of community colleges, and raising awareness around areas of particular importance to women including breast cancer prevention.

– What they say about their husbands

Mrs Trump was not heard from very often before becoming First Lady, but during an appearance on the campaign trail in 2016 she said of her husband: “Isn’t he the best?” She added: “He will be the best president ever. We love you.” On this year’s campaign trail she said the US economy has “soared” under Mr Trump’s leadership.

After the 2020 presidential race was called on November 7, First Lady-in-waiting Dr Biden posted a picture of herself with Mr Biden and said: “He will be a President for all of our families.”

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