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Ashley, Natalie, Maisy, Finnegan and Naomi Biden shared stories of the new president this week on Today

By Virginia Chamlee
January 22, 2021 01:48 PM
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Being the child or grandchild of President Joe Biden comes with a fair amount of media scrutiny but no lack of love from Biden himself.

Speaking to Today's Jenna Bush Hager in an interview that aired Tuesday and Wednesday, Biden's daughter Ashley and his granddaughters — Finnegan, Maisy, Natalie and Naomi — spoke about what the former vice president is like as a family man.

"He literally calls not just like one of us every few days," Maisy, 18, told Today. "He calls me, then he calls Natalie, then he calls Naomi, he calls Finn, then he calls Ashley …"

Even when he was vice president, added Maisy, their grandfather always made an effort to go to as many athletic events, school plays and talent shows as he could.

"He was at everything that he could make it to," she said. "It was always fun to see him show up. I'd be like, 'I think I just saw you on TV — how did you end up here?' "

Ashey, 39, also touched on the tragedies that have marked the lives of the Bidens, noting that her father had been changed by loss. His first wife, Neilia, and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, were killed in a 1972 Christmastime car crash and his son Beau died of cancer in 2015.

"Dad is so empathetic and has the ability to recognize pain, to feel others' pain and to comfort," Ashley said on Today. "We have a rule still today that no matter where dad is, no matter what meeting he's in, if one of the kids call, you have to let him know."

Ashley added then that "Beauie," as the family affectionately calls him, would be at the inauguration in spirit.

"I know Beauie will be there with us," she said. "It's going to be a really beautiful, special moment, not only for our family but for the country."

Joe Biden
Credit: Naomi Biden/Twitter

Biden granddaughter Natalie, 16, shared her own favorite memories of growing up with the now-president, which include a family Polar Bear Plunge on Thanksgiving during an annual trip to Nantucket in Massachusetts.

"Thanksgiving I think is all of our favorite holiday," she said. "Because we usually go to Nantucket ... Maisy and I and my grandpa and my uncle and my dad ... we used to to do a Polar Bear plunge in Nantucket in November."

Maisy added that the annual family tradition was made slightly more challenging due to the increased security surrounding a former vice president: "It would always be crazy because they would have to bring all the divers and swimmers for Secret Service for my Pop. And it's like me and Natalie and him holding hands, sprinting into the water."

Prior to launching his most recent bid for president, Biden's grandchildren told Today, they sat him down to help convince him his decision was a good one.

"We just kind of all agreed that we had to sit my grandparents down face-to-face and tell them not only that we want them to run but that we'll be okay if they do run," Naomi said.

She said that it was her cousin Hunter who showed Biden a tabloid story about the family, to acknowledge that the grandchildren knew the road ahead would have challenges — but they were willing to take it on.

"I think it was actually little Hunter who showed him [a tabloid story on his phone] but then basically said him, 'We know it's going to be bad,' " Naomi, 27, said. "'But we have each other and we know the truth. And we will be okay.' So I think he came out of that meeting feeling a little bit more comforted."

When the election was finally called for Biden in November, on the Saturday morning following Election Day, Finnegan, 22, said their emotions were hard to contain: "Everyone was crying. We just embraced each other. I think we'll always remember that moment."

As for how they plan to navigate the increased media scrutiny of being the first family, the Biden granddaughters told Hager that they have two prime role models who paved the way: Sasha and Malia Obama.

"[We've] had the privilege of being able to see two of our friends navigate eight years of what was really difficult, and they did so so beautifully and they came out so grounded and humble and they're so smart and driven," Finnegan said. "So I think we can only take advice from them."

Joe Biden family
The Bidens
| Credit: JOSHUA ROBERTS/POOL/AFP via Getty

Naomi — who lives in Washington, D.C., and is the eldest of Biden's son Hunter's children as well as a recent graduate of Columbia Law School — said she's "most excited" to see "what [her] Nana and Pop are going to do" upon taking office.

"It's just a time in their lives and our lives and America where [they] have the opportunity to do so much," she said, adding jokingly that she was excited her grandparents will now be "just a few miles away from my apartment, so I can go steal some food."

The Today interview also touched on the recent riot at the U.S. Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump supporters, which Ashley said "horrified" her.

"I was deeply saddened," she said. "This was a place I grew up going as a child … a place where dad has worked for over 30 years [in the Senate]. A sacred place, really."

Adding that she does have concerns about her father's safety in the wake of the insurrection, Ashley said she was confident in the security of the U.S. Secret Service.

"I think we all knew that this was dad's time to heal the nation," she said.

Ashley, the youngest of the president's children, appeared with her dad on the campaign trail a number of times leading up to the November election. (Son Hunter has been largely out of the spotlight as Trump and his allies leveled attacks based on his personal life.) Ashley could be seen dancing on stage after his victory speech. 

Biden's children and grandchildren were with him when he learned he had secured the necessary 270 electoral votes to win the presidency in November. Upon word of the victory, the family shared a celebratory hug.

NBC News reported then that Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, were on their backyard patio when the couple's grandchildren rushed to share the news after it broke on television, telling Biden: "Pop, Pop! We won!"