Snipe, a Lyft driver who spent years repairing pool tables, credits Biden reconstruction of the economyand restore dignity to the White House.
However, Snipe has trouble squaring his support with one of Biden’s family decisions: Biden’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of his 4-year-old granddaughter in Arkansas, whom his son Hunter Biden father out of wedlock.
“If my kids have kids, they’re my kids,” Snipe, 70, himself a grandfather of five, told a masked backseat passenger on a Curtis Mayfield radio broadcast. “I’m surprised, I’ll put it that way.”
Biden’s image as a family man who values decency and compassion is central to the political identity he has fostered over five decades in public office. But those virtues have taken a hit, with Biden publicly acknowledging only six grandchildren and making no mention of the girl born to Hunter Biden and Lunden Roberts, 32, whom Hunter met during the height of his well-documented battle with drug addiction.
“If that’s the case, fine, but just admit you have a seventh grandchild,” said Beth Binns, 78, a grandmother of seven and a retired receptionist from Philadelphia who votes Republican. “You can’t leave this child out in the cold. I think it’s a shame. And he’s called a Christian, a Catholic?”
Republican candidates have done it attacked the president for not recognizing her granddaughter, suggesting that she shows a lack of empathy.
Yet even among Democratic supporters in Philadelphia, a city Biden carried with more than 80 percent of the vote in 2020 and where he launched his 2020 campaign, the question isn’t sitting well with everyone, especially among fellow grandparents who can put themselves in the president’s shoes.
In interviews with about two dozen Philadelphians, most Biden supporters shrugged off Biden’s failure to acknowledge the granddaughter as a “personal decision.” Some said they didn’t know.
But other Biden supporters said they disagreed with him on his handling of the matter.
“This is one area where I think I have a disagreement,” said Herron Miller, 66, a grandfather of two who works as a steel technical coordinator at the Philly Shipyard, where Biden visited last Friday to promote his efforts to boost domestic manufacturing. “I think I should recognize that this is another granddaughter. But I’m not sure how important that is to national politics.”
‘Hypocrite’: Some Biden supporters say he should be open about grandson
Hunter Biden and Roberts settled a child support dispute last month, but the matter remains highly sensitive for Biden and White House aides, who have declined to answer questions about it.
To listen to Biden, you wouldn’t know he has a seventh grandchild.
“I have six grandchildren. And I’m crazy about them. And I talk to them every day,” Biden told a group of children on the South Lawn of the White House in April on “Your Child’s Work Day.”
During Biden’s first Christmas in the White House, the president and first lady showed off six stockings with the names of his grandchildren, but not the Arkansas grandson.
Jill Biden dedicated her 2020 children’s book “Joey: The Story of Joe Biden” to her grandchildren, mentioning only six of them by name.
“I have nothing to share from here,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said this month when asked if Biden recognizes Hunter Biden’s son in Arkansas as the president’s granddaughter.
David Basenow, 71, a former Philadelphia medical writer and editor, supports Biden but said the president’s unwillingness to acknowledge his granddaughter is “a little bit hypocritical.” Nor does he see any political inconvenience in recognizing a grandchild that his son had out of wedlock.
“It happens in all families,” Basenow said, “and it makes him more like the people who are likely to vote for him. … He’s somebody who’s not on a pedestal. He’s got problems in his family and they’ve bought into it.”
Hunter Biden, 53, met Roberts when she was a dancer at a Washington strip club and he was going through a cycle of destructive behavior fueled by addiction. Their daughter was born in 2018, and Roberts filed a paternity suit against him a year later in Arkansas.
Biden challenged the suit, writing in his 2021 memoir “Pretty Things” that the women he had been with during that period “were not the dating type.” Biden said he did not remember meeting Roberts, who he did not mention by name.
“That’s how little connection I had with anyone,” he wrote. “I was a mess, but a mess I took responsibility for.”
The child support settlement kept Biden’s name out
Roberts could not be reached for comment for this story, and her attorneys did not respond to requests to interview her.
A judge ruled in 2020 after a DNA test that Biden was the girl’s biological father, and Biden agreed to pay child support that was later revealed to be $20,000 a month for a total of $750,000. But last September he asked the court to reduce the amount due to changes in his income.
Roberts filed a motion in December asking the court to change the girl’s last name to Biden, arguing that taking her father’s name “would greatly affect and preserve her legacy as a member of the Biden family.”
“The Biden name is now synonymous with being well-educated, successful, financially astute and politically powerful,” Roberts’ attorney wrote in the court filing.
Biden fought the name change. His lawyer argued that Roberts was waging “a political war against the accused and his family”.
A trial in the child support case had been set for July, but a settlement was reached in June, about a week before Biden agreed to plead guilty to two federal counts of tax evasion in Delaware.
As part of the settlement, Biden, who has had success selling his artwork, agreed to give his daughter several paintings, and the girl’s mother agreed to withdraw her motion to have the child bear the Biden surname.
“We both want what’s best for our daughter, and that’s our only goal,” Roberts told The New York Times.
Democratic voters aren’t afraid of a moral contest with Trump
Roberts and her daughter live in Batesville, Arkansas, where she grew up. A star basketball player, the 5-foot-8 Roberts graduated with honors from Southside High School and played one season at Western Illinois before transferring to Arkansas State. A team biography said he also enjoyed hunting and skeet shooting.
Roberts’ Instagram account is full of photos chronicling her daughter’s life. In one posted on July 4, the blonde-haired girl waves a small American flag and is dressed in a white jumpsuit adorned with stars and stripes. In another, the boy wears a white Air Force One-style baseball cap while standing on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. In another, the girl looks lovingly at her mother as they pose on a sandy beach.
“I hope that one day, when you look back, you are proud of who you are, where you came from, and most importantly, who raised you,” Roberts captioned the photo.
In her interview with The New York Times, Roberts said she took her daughter to Washington for a visit because not many girls get to say their grandfather is the president.
“She’s very proud of who her grandfather is and who her father is,” Ms Roberts said. “That’s something I would never allow him to think otherwise.”
Republican presidential candidates have stepped up their attacks on Biden’s refusal to acknowledge his seventh granddaughter and have incorporated it into their attacks on the Biden family and Hunter Biden in particular.
“Why don’t you spend some time with your granddaughter in Arkansas, or at least acknowledge her existence before you start worrying about our children?” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said this month in Nashville at a dinner hosted by the Tennessee Republican Party.
But if Republicans want a moral contest with Biden, the president’s supporters say, they’re glad to have one.
The front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination is Donald Trump, the twice-impeached former president who was found liable for sexual assault and defamation in a civil lawsuit filed by author E. Jean Carroll.
“Trump has been guilty of everything,” said Rich Henry, 80, a former Philadelphia music teacher and grandfather of five.
Biden’s seventh grandchild “is a problem, yes,” Henry said as he watched a chess match outside Philadelphia City Hall, “but it’s a personal problem.”
Linda Katz, a retired grandmother of two who ran a children’s literacy nonprofit in Philadelphia, said Biden was “the best president of my life.”
Katz made phone calls to voters as a volunteer for Biden’s 2020 campaign, and the controversy over Biden’s granddaughter won’t stop her from helping out in 2024.
“I think he’s in a difficult position. He has to respect his son,” Katz said, pointing to the brothers of former presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon who brought controversy to their administrations. “I mean, it happens. It’s personal. And I’m sure he handles it with compassion and grace like he always does.”
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison aand Collins @mcollinsNEWS.
This article originally appeared in USA TODAY: Biden’s supporters struggle to square the refusal to recognize the granddaughter