The Start of Biden’s Day: “The morning’s news clips include local and national news, TV transcripts, editorials, and front-page headlines.”

From a Washington Post story by Ashley Parker headlined “Weightlifting, Gatorade, birthday calls: Inside Biden’s day”:

During a speech in Pittsburgh in March, President Biden held up the index card he keeps in his right breast pocket to track the nation’s covid deaths, inadvertently revealing a glimpse of his private schedule on the back side.

As Biden proceeded through his day — from a 30-minute lunch to a prep session for a Cabinet meeting — he had ticked through each item with a slash from a black pen: Check. Check. Check.

It was a rare glimpse inside a president’s actual life — the extreme scripting and almost surreal regimentation that define Biden’s days, from his arrival in the Oval Office just after 9 a.m. to his brief walk back to the White House residence for dinner with his wife by 7 p.m.

More than most public figures, Biden has sought to keep one foot in the normal world… from commuting home to Delaware on Amtrak to phoning ordinary Americans to attending Mass. But the presidency is testing that impulse in an entirely new way.

Current and former advisers say Biden’s typical day reveals a creature of habit with well-worn routines and favorite treats, from orange Gatorade to chocolate chip cookies; a tactile politician eager to escape the Washington bubble who meets privately with people who write him letters; and the patriarch of a sprawling Irish-Catholic clan who abruptly interrupts high-level meetings to take calls from family members.

It marks a sharp contrast with former president Donald Trump, whose days often ran both early and late with tweets that were frequently angry or inflammatory, and whose time was often consumed by rambling rallies, spontaneous calls to TV hosts and random, unscripted activities….

Biden begins his mornings with a workout that often includes lifting weights, and he meets regularly in person with a trainer. During the 2020 campaign, he biked regularly on both a traditional bike and a Peloton….

Unlike Trump — an avid TV watcher, Fox News enthusiast and self-proclaimed master of TiVo — Biden is not a voracious consumer of TV, but he does watch the morning shows when he’s working out, usually CNN’s “New Day” or MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

While still in the White House residence, he’s delivered a hard copy of “The Bulletin,” a compilation of the morning’s news clips. It includes local and national news, TV transcripts, editorials and headlines from that day’s front-page stories. In deference to Biden’s hometown affections, his press aides often provide an added emphasis on stories from Delaware and Pennsylvania; a recent edition, for instance, included stories from the News Journal, the main paper in Wilmington, Del.

The president then walks the short distance to the Oval Office, usually carrying his brown leather briefcase and a mix of binders and folders.

Along with Vice President Harris, Biden receives the President’s Daily Brief, a top secret intelligence update on global hot spots….

On many days, Biden then summons his brain trust, including Klain and top advisers Mike Donilon, Anita Dunn, Bruce Reed, Steve Ricchetti and Cedric L. Richmond. These sessions rarely have a formal agenda; Biden simply declares, “Here’s what I want to talk about,” or the aides raise subjects they have discussed in advance for Biden’s consideration….

To critics, Biden’s public schedule can seem notably light compared to his predecessors — often with just one or two brief public appearances a day, only sporadic travel (partly due to the pandemic) and weekends at his family home in Wilmington. A “lid,” meaning no further public activities, is often called early in the day….

The president can grow impatient, especially with acronyms and Washington jargon, sharply admonishing aides that he wants to be able to explain what a particular policy means for his former neighbors in Scranton, Pa., or Wilmington.

Once a week, Biden eats lunch with Harris….The White House photo office pulls together a slide show of images from their recent travel and events that the two watch on a monitor as they eat, allowing them to reflect on their week.

Biden’s preferred lunch is a soup and a salad — usually a chopped salad with grilled chicken — and he is partial to orange Gatorade and Coke Zero. Offsetting the low-calorie diet, he has a well-known penchant for sweets, including chocolate chip ice cream….

Biden has stocked the outer Oval Office with salt water taffy — from Dolle’s, a staple of the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, Del. — and his favorite chocolate chip cookies. In a nod to covid, each cookie is individually enclosed in a wrapper with a gold White House seal, making them hot commodities among staff and visitors.

Biden sometimes takes his lunch on the go to various meetings, in what Coons described as “not quite a lunch pail, but it’s his little bag of stuff, so if he gets peckish in a meeting he can have something healthy”— often a protein bar, a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and a travel-size orange Gatorade.

“He has the tastes of a 5-year-old,” a longtime Biden adviser quipped….

Biden has also been known to sneak out to the South Lawn or Rose Garden for fresh air, often with his German shepherds, Champ and Major.

The White House inherently creates a bubble around its chief occupant, and that has been doubly true during the pandemic. Biden is the latest in a long list of presidents who have sought ways to escape.

Obama received a folder each night containing 10 letters that individual Americans had written him. Biden has continued the tradition, but where Obama would often pen return missives, Biden’s aides have arranged for him to meet some of the writers in person….

That desire for human contact extends to Biden’s workday in the White House, where he sometimes surprises staffers by stopping unannounced at their workstation, especially if he has heard some news about their family and wants to check in.

Biden is also liable to stop in the middle of a story that reminds him of an old acquaintance to call that person and see how they’re doing, or to phone a staffer’s parent just to wish them a happy birthday….

In 2018, in the middle of the Trump era, Biden — who favors biographies and volumes on comparative religion — became obsessed with two books: “How Democracies Die,” by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, and “White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America,” by Joan C. Williams. He carried both everywhere, scrawling notes on the pages and pulling out well-worn copies to share passages….

When it comes to free time, Biden — whose first wife and infant daughter died in a car crash in 1972, and whose son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015 — spends it mostly with his family.

When he and first lady Jill Biden — whom he affectionately calls “Jilly” — are traveling, they call each other multiple times a day. Before or after most events, one longtime adviser said, the president calls his wife or one of his grandchildren and leaves long messages describing the crowd and the scene….

And Biden is repeatedly drawn to the familiarity of Wilmington. He has already spent nine weekends there as president, according to Mark Knoller, a former CBS News White House correspondent who tracks such presidential activities. Biden also has attended church 11 times since taking office, not counting chapel visits at Camp David, Knoller said.

Biden always wears on his wrist the rosary beads, from Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, that his late son Beau was wearing when he died.

When his grandchildren visit, the Bidens have a family dinner, and the president — or “Pop,” as his grandchildren call him — quizzes them on their lives and asks after their friends….

Biden usually returns to the residence portion of the White House around 6 or 7 p.m. After dinner, the president — whom aides describe as a “night owl” — often fields calls from advisers, with updates on the news. He also calls his son Hunter, who has struggled with addiction, every night before bedtime, texting him if he doesn’t pick up right away.

And he reviews his briefing book for the next day, so he is ready anew for when he makes the short walk back to the Oval Office the following morning.

Ashley Parker is a White House reporter for The Washington Post. She joined The Post in 2017, after 11 years at the New York Times, where she covered the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns and Congress, among other things.

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