I met Joe and Jill Biden 33 years ago when they came to Iowa to run for president. I trust them as much today as I did then, and that’s why I’m supporting Joe in the Iowa caucuses in February. He has matured and changed personally and professionally, but his values were rock solid then and they’re rock solid now.
What do I want from the 2020 election? I want to be able to get up every morning knowing I can trust the people living and working in the White House to represent my best interests around the world. I want to be able to hold our president up as an example to our grandchildren as someone who has character, a person who should be questioned but admired for defining and representing the American values we share.
I want to be able to get up every morning knowing I can go about my job as an educator and community volunteer knowing that the President has the experience to do his job to protect our interests internationally and to work with policymakers to solve the domestic issues this nation faces.
I want to trust that he’ll check in with us to see what we think about the progress he’s making. I will hold him accountable if he doesn’t live up to my expectations, but I am certain of Joe Biden’s steadfastness.
I want my neighbors, my colleagues, my friends and the next generation to respect our president even if they didn’t vote for him.
As I made my decision about whom to support on Caucus Day, I thought about the people I grew up with in small-town Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, the diverse student body at the college there where I serve on the board of trustees and the 8th graders I taught for 20 years who now have middle schoolers of their own.
I thought about the kids and teachers I work with as a volunteer at Van Meter Middle School near where we live west of Des Moines next door to three of our grandchildren. I thought about the people I met at libraries and schools as I traveled the state as First Lady, the people of the 4th District where I campaigned for Congress and the people who now stop me in the grocery store to talk about their presidential choices.
The decision always comes back to trust. Whom do I trust with their futures? Whom will people trust who aren’t as involved as I am in politics? Who might appeal to Independents and to people who just aren’t comfortable with the rapid rate of change? What qualities and what experiences must our candidate have in order to unite us.
One of those qualities is compassion. I have watched Joe and Jill Biden comfort those who, like them, have lost loved ones to disease, military service or disasters. I want my president to have known suffering or to know what it means to send a son or daughter into battle.
Tom and I have advised all of the candidates who asked for our help, especially the lesser-known candidates with years of public service who are trying to get some attention and traction here in Iowa. It just hasn’t happened for some of them for all sorts of reasons, mostly connected with money. We know how it feels to know you’re qualified to be president, but still be a 1-percenter.
After a year of attending events, reading and listening to policy statements, and talking to other Iowans, it’s clear to me that Joe is best positioned to beat Donald Trump next November.
I met my first president, Harry Truman, when I was 4. I married Tom Vilsack who ran for president, and I’ve supported men and women in the Iowa caucuses who I knew to be leaders we could respect regardless of party. I have always chosen rock-solid in my personal and political life.
My hope is that those of you Iowans who are now seriously thinking about this important choice ahead of us will think about more than whom you like or whose policies are most aligned with your political thinking.
I hope you’ll think about the people who won’t or can’t participate in the caucuses, but who will vote in the general election. I hope you’ll think about the people in the middle, because these are the people who will determine the outcome of this election.
I hope you’ll choose Joe Biden.
Christie Vilsack is a former first lady of Iowa, and a former candidate for U.S. House.