Biden Brings Back Weekly Presidential Address

Franklin Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to deliver weekly radio addresses to the American people in 1929, which came to be known as his “fireside chats”. Ronald Reagan revived the practice of delivering a weekly Saturday radio broadcast in 1982, and his successors all continued the practice until Donald Trump stopped doing them seventeen months into his term. As the Internet became more mainstream, the weekly address was made available online. George W. Bush introduced an audio podcast feed and Barack Obama introduced a weekly video address during his presidential transition period. Donald Trump continued the weekly video address for the first nine months of his administration, after which he put the address on hiatus. He later released occasional “weekly” addresses before pausing the tradition in June of 2018.

Now President Joe Biden has revived the weekly Presidential address, with the White House releasing a video of the phone call he made to a woman in California who had lost her job as a result of the COVID19 pandemic.

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

The conversation is part of an effort to help Biden, who has largely limited his travel because of the pandemic, communicate directly with Americans, the White House said. Biden did fly to Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday to spend the weekend at home with his family. Biden has always been known for his love of simply speaking with people, regardless of their backgrounds. Possessing an innate ability to find a way to connect with everyone, Biden is an empathetic speaker and an even better listener.

“There is a time-honored tradition in the country of hearing from the president in this way,” press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

After losing her job at a startup clothing company in July, Michele Voelkert wrote Biden a letter. He read it, then called her. She told him how hard it’s been for her to find work since the lockdowns began last March.

Biden, who spoke from his Oval Office desk, replied that his father used to say a job is about dignity and respect as much as it is about a paycheck. He described his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, which calls for $1,400 payments to people like Voelkert, and other economic aid for individuals and small businesses. There’s also money to help distribute coronavirus vaccines.

You can see their conversation via the White House’s tweet, below.


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