Joe, Jill Biden; Kamala Harris; Jen Psaki: 5 things to know about the new administration

In a contrast to ex-President Donald Trump, who turned his back on the city, expect President Biden to be out and about in Washington.

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President Joe Biden leaves Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021.

Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — In office less than a week, President Joe Biden, first lady Jill, Vice President Kamala Harris and Press Secretary Jen Psaki already put some distinctive stamps on the new administration.

In terms of style and tone — here’s what’s happened already and how that signals what to expect:

  1. In a contrast to ex-President Donald Trump, who turned his back on the city, President Biden will be out and about.

Biden’s no stranger, living in the vice president’s home in northwest D.C. for eight years.

On Sunday, Biden attended his first mass as president at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, a church he has attended when he was vice president. The grandfather of seven, Biden was with his son, Hunter, and Hunter’s daughters, Finnegan and Maisy.

On the return trip to the White House, Biden’s motorcade made a stop at “Call Your Mother,” a popular deli in Georgetown — it calls itself “Jew-ish” style — known for its bagels.

According to the pool report, while Biden waited in his limo with his granddaughters, “Hunter Biden stood at the window several minutes for his takeout order but WH officials didn’t know exactly what he purchased.”

Former President Barack Obama and ex-first lady Michelle were out and about in D.C. all the time; they were always trying out restaurants — or just popping up at a hamburger joint.

Trump never went shopping, took a hike in a park, ate at a locally owned restaurant or attended a concert. Except for going to some fundraisers, Trump in D.C. only went to his nearby hotel and his golf course in Virginia.

2. Biden is reaching out to allies first.

This was standard operating procedure in previous presidencies, one of many norms upended by Trump, who disparaged U.S. allies as he played up to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden’s initial calls with foreign leaders started Friday, first with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrado. On Saturday, Biden talked to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and on Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron.

3. First lady Jill Biden knows what she wants to do and is already doing it.

Look for one of her signature issues to be working with military families.

Dr. Biden, with eight years as second lady — and no young kids to deal with — comes to the East Wing with a running start — far more so than Michelle Obama. This is new for a first lady: Dr. Biden will continue to teach at a community college in Northern Virginia.

On Friday, Dr. Biden visited Whitman Walker Health, a clinic here known for its work with the HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ communities.

After that, she stopped at the Capitol to thank National Guard troops on duty, part of the massive security needed for the last Wednesday’s inauguration in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack by pro-Trump supporters. She brought a basket of chocolate chip cookies baked at the White House.

And Thursday, Dr. Biden did a virtual call with 11,000 teachers and leaders of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, the two major Democratic-aligned teacher unions.

4. Vice President Harris will be very visible and prominent.

One example: during the prime time inauguration celebration Harris delivered a speech from the Lincoln Memorial.

Harris will get more press coverage than ex-Vice President Mike Pence, in part because the first female vice president is also the first person who is Black and of South Asian descent. She also will be pressed into service as the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.

In terms of perception — Harris is already in play for the White House. If Biden serves a single term — Harris is the Democrat frontrunner for 2024.

5. Press Secretary Psaki to use briefings to spotlight Harris, Dr. Biden.

In a change from Trump and Obama, Psaki, a veteran of the 2008 Obama campaign, said she will use her briefings to highlight the activities of Jill Biden and Harris. This is a noteworthy development, since in the Trump and Obama administrations those offices never did routine briefings.

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