Ashley Biden, daughter of President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, doesn’t get much limelight, and she seems to like it that way. In her first TV interview, Today host (and former presidential daughter) Jenna Bush Hager spoke with 39-year-old Biden about her father’s forthcoming presidency, the messy transition of power, and her role as First Daughter.
While the segment was full of heartwarming anecdotes about her parents’ bond, much of the interview touched on her father’s unique experience with loss. Though born after her father’s first wife and daughter in a car accident, their deaths permeated Ashley Biden’s own upbringing and helped make family a number one priority in the Biden household.
“Dad is so empathetic and has the ability to recognize pain, to feel others’ pain, and to comfort,” Biden said. “It’s also made family his number one. We have a rule... no matter where dad is, no matter what meeting he’s in, if one of the kids call, you have to get him out.”
But the death of her half-brother Beau, who died of cancer in 2015, brought a shared loss for the father and daughter. They’ve both continued to feel his presence, on the campaign trail and in the days leading up to the inauguration.
“I just miss being with him, being in the same room, and saying nothing,” Biden said. “He was 46 when he passed, dad will be the 46th president.”
And he’ll become president despite President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump skirting traditional inauguration niceties. It’s commonplace for the outgoing president and spouse to invite the incoming president and first lady to the White House as part of a more symbolic transfer of power, greeting them on the steps of the North Portico before the first ladies head off to a tea and tour of the residence.
That’s not happening this time around.
“Has your mom heard from Melania Trump about doing the traditional protocols?” Bush Hager asked.
“No, I don’t think they’re doing the traditional protocol,” Biden said. “Which is unfortunate.”
A recent CNN report adds more context to this petulant snub, which is part of a series of them from Team Trump:
The Inauguration Day snub of the Bidens comes on the heels of a series of broken norms and childish behavior that comes directly from the President of the United States, who has been vocal about his disinterest in preserving any semblance of decency towards the man who will succeed him.
Trump, according to several sources, is even mulling whether to write a letter to Biden to leave for him in the Oval Office, a standard-bearing tradition.
Melania Trump, who has not been seen in public in more than two weeks, has not reached out to Jill Biden, dashing expectations she would continue the passing along of hospitality to her successor, hosting her for a tour.
Even after contentious election cycles, first ladies and presidents have set aside hard feelings and ego, no matter how bruised, until now.
Still, Biden isn’t pressed, and neither is the rest of the family. “I think we’re all OK with it,” she added.
That’s not the only big change from the Trump administration to the upcoming Biden one: Ashley has no plans on taking on a First Daughter role in the White House or having any involvement with administrative duties or punditry, unlike Ivanka Trump, who acted as her father’s top advisor, or Donald Trump Jr, who acted as his father’s top cheerleader.
“I will not have a job with the administration,” Biden said with a hint of laughter. “I will, however, hopefully use this platform to advocate for social justice, for mental health, [and] to be involved in community development and revitalization.”
After the embarrassing reign of Ivanka Trump, it’s nice to see a First Daughter who realizes she has better things to do than become her father’s stooge.