President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden plan to have themselves a romantic little Christmas.
The couple appeared on Monday's Drew Barrymore Show in what was their first joint interview on daytime TV. They talked about his sweet Christmas gift tradition — and the enduring love between them after 45 years of marriage.
"One thing that Joe gives me every year is a poem," the English and writing professor, 71, told Barrymore. "He has a book that he bought for me and every year he writes a poem."
Barrymore asked if the president, 80, personally writes it, and he replied, "Of course I do. There's a lot to write about," grabbing his wife's hand. However, he quipped that the poem "doesn't quite do it,” as he buys her gifts, as well. She said that he once got her a "a full rose garden" for one of her birthdays, adding, "He pretty much gets it right."
Of not getting a perfect score when it comes to gift giving, he said, "Oh, man. Everybody knows I love her more than she loves me."
The couple traveled back in time, recounting how they met. He was a widower after his first wife, Neilia, and daughter, Naomi, died in the 1972 car crash that his young sons, Beau and Hunter, survived. Meanwhile, Jill had divorced her first husband. The future POTUS and FLOTUS were set up on a blind date by Joe's youngest brother in 1975 — and he proposed five times before she agreed to marry him, which she did in 1977.
"When I went out with her the first time, I knew this was the woman. I really did," he said. "Only twice in my life have I ever fallen in love. Both times I knew immediately. I'm not joking."
He said Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, and Hunter were instrumental in Jill saying yes to the Delaware Senator. "My boys — our boys — were young [about 6 and 7] and they came in and said ... 'Dad, we were talking. We think we should marry Jill.' Swear to god," Joe recalled.
After striking out four times, the winning proposal took place after he returned from trying to see Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
"I came back, got off the plane in Philadelphia, drove straight to her apartment, knocked on the door," he remembered. "[She] said, 'Oh, Joe, come on in.' I said, 'No … You got my Irish up …I’m asking you one more time … You don’t have to say when, but if you say no, I understand, and that’s it.' I looked at her and said, 'Will you marry me?' She goes [after taking a minute], 'OK.' Swear to God."
Joe said he learned from his sister, who was friends with Jill, what made Jill change her mind. "'She told me she fell in love with the boys,'" he recalled his sibling saying.
Jill said her hesitancy was because, "I had to make absolutely sure that this marriage was going to work because [the brothers] had lost their mother and they had lost their sister. I knew that it had to work because they had lost so much. They had to feel secure that this marriage would work."
Joe said that prior to marrying Jill, he asked her how she could marry him knowing how much he had loved his first wife. "She said, 'Because you loved that deeply, you can love that way again,'" he recalled. "I'll never forget it."
Joe said the June 1977 wedding, at the United Nations Chapel in NYC, involved the two boys.
"When we were sitting there and [the officiant] said, 'Who takes this woman?' Both the boys got up and walked to the altar spontaneously," Joe said. "It wasn't planned … We both we surprised and pleased."
She added, "We got married as a family."
They all spent the wedding night together too — the couple took the boys to see Annie.
"She's also my best friend," he added. "For real. You can tell her anything. She's got a backbone like a ramrod. She does. You don't want to mess with me with this woman [by my side]."
Later, the pair participated in the show's "The Final 5" segment, which saw Jill answer questions and Joe have to guess her responses. Some things we learned: Her favorite place in the White House is the Truman Balcony. A snack she likes to sneak in the White House kitchen is French fries — though he guessed wine and stuck by his answer. ("I think you consider wine a snack, too," he said to the first lady.) Jill said her husband's most annoying habit is leaving his reading light on at night.
Keeping it light, it ended with who said "I love you" first in their relationship — and that was Joe, of course.
"Oh, that's easy — me," he said. "I said it first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth."