Biden’s White House routine: From morning coffee to reading citizens’ letters before bed
New US president Joe Biden is well known for being a creature of habit.
For decades, his nickname in the Senate was “Amtrak Joe”, bestowed in honour of his commitment to commuting to Washington, DC, by train every morning from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, and returning each evening by the same means to ensure he spent time with his young sons after their mother was killed in a tragic car accident.
The 78-year-old has quickly established a similarly orderly routine in the White House during his first weeks in office, according to CNN.
Mr Biden is said to begin his morning by having coffee with his wife, Dr Jill Biden, before setting down to work at 9am, taking calls and meetings from the Oval Office where a log fire is often lit to stave off the winter cold, a cosy atmosphere his German Shepherds Champ and Major enjoy.
The president – who ran for high office twice before and is no stranger to the trappings of power, having served as Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years – has also re-established the President’s daily briefing, at which the latest classified national security intelligence is relayed to him, a custom that was allowed to lapse under Donald Trump.
To observe social distancing at a time when his primary agenda is bringing the coronavirus pandemic under control, having inherited a crisis from Mr Trump that has killed 486,000 Americans, Mr Biden often speaks to Cabinet members via teleconferencing equipment, recently wheeling in a large screen so that he could talk to new transport secretary Pete Buttigieg while he was self-isolating.
The president then begins his short walk home at 7pm, passing along the Colonnade carrying a stack of manila folders and a brown leather briefcase as though he were still a commuter strolling along a station platform.
Unlike Mr Obama and Mr Trump, who sat up late into the night reading briefing documents and watching right-wing cable news respectively, Mr Biden tends to go to bed early, according to CNN, often making time to read letters from ordinary Americans tucked into his briefing folders by staff in order to give him a sense of the national mood on key issues like the pandemic or working conditions.
At the weekends, Mr Biden – a devout Irish Catholic – continues to make time for worship, attending public mass in Washington at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown and at his home parish in Wilmington.
For his first President’s Day in office, he stayed at the commander-in-chief’s cabin retreat Camp David in Catoctin Mountain Park in Frederick County, Maryland, apparently relaxing by playing Mario Kart with his granddaughter Naomi (he chose Luigi and narrowly won, she reported on social media).
Overall, Mr Biden and the new first lady have sought to set a gentler, kinder tone at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue after four years of angry tweets and divisive rhetoric from President Trump, the administration moving swiftly to suspend deputy press secretary TJ Ducklow when he threatened a journalist last week before eventually resigning.
As part of this renewed spirit of harmony, Dr Biden unveiled a display of heart-shaped message boards across the White House lawn on Friday to celebrate Valentine’s Day, which she and her husband came out to inspect with their dogs before chatting to reporters.
She later visited a local sweet shop and tweeted “Shhh – don’t tell Joe!”, an affectionate gesture at some remove from Melania Trump’s repeated refusal to hold her husband’s hand in public and seeming reluctance to engage in official White House duties, notably provoking mock horror in response to her troubling taste in Christmas decorations.