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First Lady visits Traverse City, confirms Biden's continued candidacy

First Lady Jill Biden greets a customer at King Orchards on Wednesday after flying in to Traverse City.
Lauren Rice
First Lady Jill Biden speaks to visitors of King Orchards in Antrim County. She visited northern Michigan July 3 to open a new campaign office in Traverse City. President Joe Biden visited the farm in a campaign stop in 2020.

First Lady Jill Biden says her husband is continuing his campaign for reelection, despite fallout from a shaky debate performance last week and calls, including some Democrats, for the president to yield to a different potential candidate.

A plane carrying First Lady Jill Biden touched down at Cherry Capital Airport Wednesday afternoon.

Her first stop was the opening of a new coordinated campaign office in Traverse City, intended to combine the efforts of the Biden-Harris campaign and the Michigan Democrats. It’s the 45th of its kind in the state, dedicated to training and mobilizing volunteers.

“We are officially opening this campaign center,” Biden said. “Thank you for all of your hard work and support.”

A woman in the crowd fainted partway through Biden’s remarks. Several people speculated that it was the summer heat in the room crowded with over 100 people.

Emergency services were called, Biden held a moment of silent prayer for her well being and continued her remarks. Several minutes later EMS brought the woman out on a stretcher. She was sitting up and looked awake and aware.

Biden confirmed that her husband is not done campaigning yet, despite recent speculation.

“Joe is the Democratic nominee and he is going to beat Donald Trump, just like he did in 2020,” she said.

But outside were a small group of protesters, holding signs with the words “Step Aside Joe!”

For some, President Joe Biden’s age is something that worries them. Eric Wagner, a visitor from Indiana, was at Jill’s next stop, King Orchards.

“Age is still a big concern for us,” Wagner said, referring to his family there with him. “Both of these candidates are pushing into their 80s.

“I’ll still vote for Biden but there’s still so much uncertainty.”

The Michigan GOP responded to her visit with a release calling the First Lady the “real president Biden.”

“At least today the lack of explanation for the Democrats’ failed policies is purposeful and not a sign of obvious cognitive decline,” it read.

John King, owner of King Orchards, said he’s glad the First Lady came to visit and still supports President Biden.

“It’s wonderful that she’s here,” he said. “She was here prior when Joe was campaigning, but it was COVID times and we couldn’t come within 12 feet of her or shake her hand.”

Previously, King said the campaign found his orchard because of a video his son Michael made about environmental concerns that impact cherry farms like theirs.

“He got the attention of the Biden campaign,” he said. “Now it seems like we’re a familiar stop.”

Lisa Miller and Amy Curtis were at King Orchards, and said they were happily surprised to see the First Lady show up on their hunt for strawberry cider. As a librarian and teacher, respectively, they agreed that they’d like to hear more about teacher shortages and the education system in general.

“We grew up in this area, we’re always interested in learning what she has to say about education,” Miller said, and referenced the First Lady’s experience in teaching.

“The right to read, the ability to read is important to take care of,” Curtis said.

Lauren Rice is a newsroom intern for WCMU based at the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Michael Livingston reports for IPR from the tip-of-the-mitt – mainly covering Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties.
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