Biden hosts first of chats to talk 'directly' with Americans
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US President Joe Biden on Saturday launched a series of conversations with ordinary Americans by calling a woman who lost her job due to the pandemic, in an effort to showcase his direct contact with his fellow citizens.
"The White House will launch a new effort for the president to regularly communicate directly with the American people," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday.
Due to Covid-19, the conversation was held via telephone from the Oval Office in Washington to Michele, a mother from Roseville, California who lost her job at a start-up company because of the economic crisis sparked by the pandemic.
She had written to Biden to tell him about her struggles and her search for a new job.
"Like my dad used to say, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It's about your dignity, it's about your respect, it's about your place in the community," the 78-year-old president told Michele, in a video of the call posted online by the White House.
Biden also took the opportunity to promote his $1.9 trillion stimulus package that his Democratic party is preparing to adopt in Congress, despite the lack of Republican support, as well as the massive vaccination campaign he has promised.
"We're so glad that we have you focusing on that," said Michele, whose last name was withheld, adding that her parents had just made their appointment to get their Covid-19 vaccinations.
With this new conversation series, Biden is seeking to show his empathy -- and to mark a break from his predecessor Donald Trump, who was accused by critics of not caring about the fate of millions of Americans affected by America's health and economic crises.
Biden's phone calls are meant to be a modern-day iteration, in the era of social media, of the radio fireside chats held by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s as a way to invite himself into American homes.
Trump only sporadically took up this tradition, in the form of pre-recorded videos published on Facebook.