Jill Biden's Most Controversial Moments

Jill Biden has managed, by and large, to skirt major controversies during her husband, President Joe Biden's time in office. That said, although there have been no accusations of plagiarism or questionable clothing choices, she's definitely not been without her controversial moments here and there. In fact, they started way before the couple set foot in the White House.

Jill and Joe met in 1975 and dated for two years before tying the knot in 1977. They had both been married before. Joe's first wife, Neilia Biden, died in a tragic car accident in 1972 while out Christmas shopping with their three kids. The couple's 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, was also killed, leaving Joe to raise two boys alone. "The pain ... seemed unbearable in the beginning, and it took me a long time to heal, but I did survive the punishing ordeal," he wrote in his 2017 book "Promise Me Dad."

Meanwhile, Jill divorced her first husband, Bill Stevenson, the same year she began dating Joe. Although, Jill's disgruntled ex questioned the timeline. He insisted the couple started having an affair in 1974 while Jill was still married to him. "I was betrayed by the Bidens," Stevenson told Inside Edition in September 2020. "Joe was my friend. Jill was my wife." She vehemently denied the claim and said he was just trying to promote a book he'd written. Either way, that wasn't the only one of Jill's controversial moments.

Jill's breakfast tacos and bodegas blunder

Donald Trump did little to endear himself to Latinos before and during his term as president. Hate crimes skyrocketed, and many blamed Trump's dehumanizing rhetoric: "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people," he said of Mexican immigrants in June 2015.

However, an April 2024 survey showed President Joe Biden's support among Latinos dropping during his presidency, with Trump scooping up support. Not surprisingly, Joe was keen to address the issue and stop the slide before it became a nosedive. "I need you. I need you badly," he told supporters at a Phoenix, Arizona, Mexican restaurant in April 2024. "I need the help. Kamala and I desperately need your help.

Still, Jill Biden did little to endear herself to Latinos when she made a startlingly stereotyping speech during a July 2022 conference in San Antonio for the Latino civil rights and advocacy organization UnidosUS. "The diversity of this community — as distinct as the bodegas of the Bronx, as beautiful as the blossoms of Miami, and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio — is your strength," she said, mispronouncing "bodega" just for good measure. "The first lady apologizes that her words conveyed anything but pure admiration and love for the Latino community," her spokesperson, Michael LaRosa, posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Jill's basketball winners and losers

Jill Biden was clearly amped after watching the Louisiana State University Tigers beat the University of Iowa Hawkeyes 102-85 in the April 2023 NCAA women's basketball championship finals in Dallas. The FLOTUS was so carried away in the moment that she set the cat among the pigeons by suggesting President Joe Biden invite the winning and the losing teams to the White House.

"So I know we'll have the champions come to the White House, they always do, so you know, we'll have LSU come," Jill said. "But, you know what? I'm going to tell Joe I think Iowa should come, too, because they played such a good game. Right? Winners and losers ... that's good sportsmanship!"

Given that LSU is predominantly Black and Iowa is predominantly White, critics were quick to pounce, accusing Jill of racism; Tigers star forward Angel Reese led the charge. "If we were to lose, we would not be getting invited to the White House," she told the "Paper Route by I am Athlete" podcast. "I remember she made a comment about both teams should be invited because it's sportsmanship. And I'm like, 'Are you saying that stuff because of what I did?' Stuff like that, it bothers me," Reese continued. "Saturday Night Live" was less opaque in its response. "White girls lose, and suddenly it's all teams matter," Punkie Johnson, playing Angel Reese, quipped during a Weekend Update skit.

Jill's doctor debate

One of Jill Biden's most controversial moments was sparked by her use of the honorific "Dr." In November 2020, the conservative magazine of choice, National Review, printed a scathing takedown, claiming Jill wasn't worthy of the title, as her degree was an Ed.D. and not a Ph.D., and insisting her "doctorate is garbage because her dissertation is garbage."

The Wall Street Journal followed suit in December with a patronizing and patriarchal op-ed. "Madame First Lady — Mrs. Biden — Jill — kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the 'Dr.' before your name? 'Dr. Jill Biden' sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic," Joseph Epstein opined.

Just like that, President Joe Biden's wife found herself unwittingly at the center of a heated debate. One that, not surprisingly, social media was firmly divided over. "Dear @DrBiden: My father was a non-medical doctor. And his work benefited humanity greatly. Yours does, too," Martin Luther King's daughter, Bernice King, posted on X. "Her name is Dr. Jill Biden. Get used to it," Hillary Clinton wrote. "She's not a DR. Calling her 'Dr' is an insult to those that actually earned the title," a hater claimed. "No problem. Also good with Dr. Kanye West, Dr. Ben Affleck, Dr. Jon Bon Jovi, and Dr. P. Diddy," another snarked.

Jill's Nancy Reagan pride

President Joe Biden is steadfast in his support of the LGBTQ+ community. In May 2012, the then-vice president shocked the U.S. when he seemingly did a 180 on the Obama administration's stance on same-sex marriage. "I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties," Biden told "Meet the Press" anchor David Gregory.

So, it's little surprise that Jill Biden raised eyebrows when she lauded Nancy Reagan in a speech during gay pride month in June 2022. The Reagans have been slammed for their handling of the AIDS epidemic, with accusations of pandering to the religious right and turning a blind eye to the crisis until it had already taken tens of thousands of lives. "If there is a hell both Ronny and Nancy are Roasting," the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence announced in a statement published by The Guardian following the former FLOTUS' death in March 2016.

Still, when Jill unveiled a new postage stamp honoring Nancy in June 2022, she had nothing but praise for her predecessor. "She made such a difference," Jill gushed. "We can all change the world in big ways and small ones and Mrs. Reagan reminds us we need both. It's up to each of us to find small everyday ways we can bring our communities together."

Jill's guidance of Joe

Pundits on both sides of the political fence were united in their concerns over President Joe Biden's mental and physical capacity following his disastrous debate performance in June 2024. "I had a bad night, and the fact of the matter is that you know... I screwed up. I made a mistake," Joe admitted in an interview with "The Earl Ingram Show." His confession did little to dull Democrats' concerns, with many calling for Joe to step aside and make way for another to take on Donald Trump. Still, Joe and Jill Biden made it clear he won't be giving up. The FLOTUS told Vogue they would "not let those 90 minutes define the four years he's been president. We will continue to fight."

Jill was there to guide her husband off the stage following the debate debacle. "Joe, you did such a great job answering every question. You knew all the facts," she later reassured him, leading to accusations that she was patronizing the octogenarian and treating him like a child.

Jill's apparent strength versus Joe's perceived frailty led to some claiming she was pulling the presidential strings. "She is a close counsel of Joe Biden and his ardent supporter, both personally and politically. She was reputedly crucial to Biden's decision to run again, and she will undoubtedly be crucial in the coming days as pressure mounts on Biden to withdraw," political historian Christopher Phelps told the Daily Mail in June 2024.