First Lady Jill Biden greets guests at President Joe Biden’s welcome party at the Exploratorium during APEC week in San Francisco on Nov. 15, 2023. The first lady is in the Bay Area for a series of fundraising events. (Justin Katigbak/The San Francisco Standard/POOL via Pagransen)

On Wednesday, First Lady Jill Biden made a stop for the Biden Victory Fund at the home of Gretchen Sisson and Andrew McCollum near Buena Vista Park in San Francisco.

A model of the White House sat on a Victorian mantle. A poster over the hearth read, “Freedom is in peril. Defend it with all your might.”

At 4:20 p.m., she spoke to a crowd of about 25 donors and a dozen children, with five girls about the age of 10 sitting in the front. Biden first sympathized with the children for having to hear a speech, then she told them an exciting story about Joe’s young children, Beau and Hunter, bringing home a snake they caught in a net.

“I ran upstairs, I slammed the door. I was so frightened,” she said. Over the next few months, their relationship deepened, she said, until one day the boys gave her a kiss before school, “They hugged me and they said, ‘love you, mom,’ and they did it without a thought. In that moment I went from being Jill to mom.”

She told a story about how clean-cut young Sen. Biden looked in the 1970s, when he showed up at her door for their first date.

“I was in college, so all the guys I dated were wearing bellbottoms and clogs and tie dye. When Joe came to the door, I opened the door and I took one look at his perfect suit and his leather loafers, and I thought, ‘Thank God, it’s only one date!’”

‘Joe can tell you what he’s done’

She said that Joe’s mom used to say that God never gives us a cross too heavy to carry. And over the years, she’s been inspired by his resilience, his optimism and strength. “And anyone can tell you what they want to do,” she said. “Joe can tell you what he’s done.”

“So many of you know that he’s helped pass the boldest climate legislation in American history. He put Ketanji Brown Jackson on the Supreme Court. He’s got one of the strongest economic recoveries in modern history. He fought Big Pharma and won. And he’s brought people together from both sides of the aisle to find common ground, which so many people said couldn’t be done,” she said. 

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden watch Gwen Stefani’s performance at his welcome party at Exploratorium during Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Week in San Francisco on Nov. 15, 2023. (Justin Katigbak/The San Francisco Standard/POOL via Pagransen)

Biden highlighted points from the president’s agenda, “We have to make universal pre-K a reality. I’m sure you agree with that. We have to protect our children from gun violence. We have to restore a woman’s right to health care.”

“There are really no decisions that are more personal, and it should be common sense to allow women to make choices about their futures,” she said. “Yet for extremist Republicans, it’s not. We did not ask for this fight, but if we have to fight, we will. We must.”

She asked everyone in the room to recall their feelings the morning after the 2016 election and said we cannot let that happen again.

“We have a faith in an idea that is bigger than any of us, that we are going to build a better democracy forever.”

First Lady Jill Biden

She called on everyone to do more, “We have to begin now. We have to meet this moment as if our rights are at stake, because they are. As if our democracy is on the line, because it is.”

“We’re going to win this election for ourselves and especially for our children,” she said. “We have a faith in an idea that is bigger than any of us, that we are going to build a better democracy forever.”