First lady Biden headed to Chicago to promote White House women's health initiative with Hollywood actress Halley Berry

January 9, 2024
by
Ben Marquis

First lady Jill Biden has emerged as the chief surrogate for President Joe Biden's 2024 re-election campaign and has been hitting the road on her husband's behalf for the past several months, most likely to avoid his propensity for gaffes and misstatements and because he is deeply unpopular with low approval ratings among the American people.

Undoubtedly within that surrogate role, the first lady on Thursday will travel to Chicago, Illinois to join Hollywood actress Halley Berry at an event to promote a White House initiative on women's health, according to The Hill.

The focus of the event featuring Biden and Berry will be "advancing research on menopause," a topic that the actress has a keen interest in and has spoken publicly about in the past.

First Lady promoting White House initiative on women's health

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that First Lady Biden and actress Berry will get together to deliver remarks on Thursday at the University of Illinois-Chicago that will "highlight the importance of advancing research on menopause and women’s health."

Technically, the scheduled event is not part of President Biden's re-election campaign but rather falls within the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research that was first launched on Nov. 13 last year.

That effort is jointly led by the first lady and the White House Gender Policy Council and endeavors to "fundamentally change how we approach and fund women’s health research, and pioneer the next generation of discoveries in women’s health."

The White House is "committed" to making that a reality by "galvanizing the Federal government and the private and philanthropic sectors to spur innovation, unleash transformative investment to close research gaps, and improve women’s health."

A topic near and dear for Berry

The inclusion of Hollywood star Halley Berry in the event with first lady Jill Biden which will be focused on menopause is not particularly surprising given that the 57-year-old actress has become rather outspoken on that specific topic over the past year.

In an August 2023 op-ed in Women's Health magazine, Berry wrote, "We can make talking about women’s health issues less taboo by daring to talk about it" and how she was now openly "challenging" all of her preconceived notions about the experience of menopause and the changes it brings to women while she was going through it herself.

"I'm challenging all those stereotypes about how you have to look a certain way or feel a certain way. I'm my best self now that I reached 56 years old," she wrote at the time. "I have the most to offer. I have zero blanks to give anymore. I'm solidly in my womanhood. I finally realize what I have to say is valuable, even if no one else agrees."

First lady not alone in serving as surrogate for Biden

There is little argument that President Biden is leaning heavily on the first lady to act as his chief surrogate in his 2024 re-election campaign, though she is certainly not alone in serving as a stand-in for the elderly and gaffe-prone president with dismal approval and favorability ratings.

The Washington Examiner reported in December that several other prominent and "influential" Democratic figures had similarly been tasked to hit the campaign trail to tout Biden's purported accomplishments and make the arguments for why he should be re-elected to a second four-year term in the White House.

Those other top Biden surrogates include California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, two relatively popular elected Democratic leaders who, if not allied with the president, could have presented a legitimate threat to his candidacy if they had mounted serious primary challenges against the incumbent.

Other top allies promoting Biden on the campaign trail who do not pose similar potential threats include former President and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama, as well as failed 2016 nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who are expected to aid Biden's campaign with fundraising efforts.

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