Jill Biden on Thursday defended taking her granddaughter Naomi Biden on a taxpayer-funded trip to Africa, noting that other presidents and first ladies have taken family members on trips abroad.
‘It’s great for me to be able to bring a family member. I think it is a tradition, or, in fact, we have seen other families from the first families bring their family members to see the rest of the world and experience the world,” she said during a stopover in Namibia.
Naomi Biden, 29, has been by the first lady’s side at every stop on her trip thus far.
The two women even stopped to hand out White House M&Ms to a group of roadside children watching the caravan.
“Candy from the United States,” the first lady announced as she stepped out of her car with Naomi hot on her heels.
The two were immediately surrounded by about twenty children, who whooped with delight once they got their hands on the sweets.
Jill Biden and Naomi Biden deliver White House M&Ms to children in Namibia
The duo quickly ran out of candy and when a boy looked wide-eyed after the first lady ran out of candy, he told the disappointed boy, “I’m so sorry, I don’t have any more.” But when he turned around, she said, ‘Wait!’ and she handed him the blue bag with the US Presidential seal that she used to carry the M&Ms.
Jill Biden is on a goodwill trip to Africa to shore up US relations with countries there as her husband’s administration tries to counter Chinese influence on the continent.
Your first stop on your six-day journey is Namibia. He heads to Kenya on Friday.
Naomi Biden is the eldest granddaughter of the first family and lives in the White House. She married Peter Neal on South Lawn in November.
“Historically, family members of presidents and first ladies have frequently joined them during international travel. The Bidens are following practices consistent with those used by previous administrations,” East Wing spokeswoman Vanessa Valdivia said in a statement.
Michelle Obama brought her daughters Sasha and Malia to Africa when she visited in June 2016. And Hillary Clinton brought her daughter Chelsea when she visited.
The Bidens, who are close to their grandchildren, often take them on trips and to events.
Naomi’s sisters, Finnegan and Maisy, were with the Bidens in Spain over the summer when they attended a meeting of the NATO countries in Madrid.
Jill Biden acknowledged her granddaughter’s presence on her trip to Africa, took her for pictures and asked if she had any questions.
At a luncheon on Thursday, where he discussed his friendship with Namibian First Lady Monica Geingos, Biden noted: “We both have beautiful granddaughters named Naomi.”
Naomi Biden (right) has been by Jill Biden’s side during her trip to Africa
Jill Biden gives 11-month-old Joseph his pacifier after he dropped it
Naomi has remained relatively quiet in her public appearances.
“I love your dress,” she told a woman during a stop at Hope Initiatives Southern Africa (HISA) in Katutura, a neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital city of Windhoek. He gave the woman a hug.
Jill Biden met with women at the center that ensures they have access to economic opportunity and healthcare. The center also receives HIV funding from PEPFAR, a large program started by George W. Bush that the Biden administration is trying to revamp.
He chatted for almost an hour with the participants. She met an 11-month-old boy named Joseph and bent down to pick up his pacifier when he dropped it.
Naomi Biden, in an olive green jumpsuit, listened to the stories alongside the first lady.
Jill Biden shakes hands with children
Jill Biden says goodbye to the children
Jill Biden stood in solidarity with a young mother who was struggling to earn a living.
‘You have to be able to support yourself and your baby, right?’ she said. But you will get there, you will get there. You will do it because you have to. Once you have a baby, you have to take care of it. That is your responsibility, right? You will get there. you will. Moms are the tigers. We fight for our children.
Jill Biden and Naomi Biden arrived in Africa on Wednesday
Naomi Biden joined the photo sessions, including one with Jill Biden, Namibian President Hage Geingob and his wife, Monica Geingos.