- President Biden said he was “extremely self-conscious” about being waited on in the White House.
- At a CNN town hall, he said he was “raised in a way that you didn’t look for anybody to wait on you.”
- In the first week of his presidency, Trump bragged about the opulence of the White House.
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President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he was uncomfortable with how much he was waited on by staff in the White House. President Donald Trump had bragged about its opulence at a similar point in his presidency.
In a CNN town hall — Biden’s first town hall as president — Biden described how he was getting used to living and working at the White House.
When the CNN anchor Anderson Cooper asked what it was like to be at the White House as the president as opposed to the vice president, Biden joked that he would “get up in the morning and look at Jill and say, ‘Where the hell are we?'”
He said that while he had spent time in the Oval Office as the vice president, he had never been in the residence.
He also touched on the service he was receiving at the White House as president. “I was raised in a way that you didn’t look for anybody to wait on you,” he said.
“I find myself extremely self-conscious,” he added, because there are so many White House staff members waiting on him, including somebody who “hands me my suit coat.”
Biden’s description contrasts with how Trump, on the fifth night of his presidency, described living and working at the White House.
In a phone interview with The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman in January 2017, Trump bragged about many of the White House’s features.
He told Haberman that “these are the most beautiful phones I’ve ever used in my life.”
He added that everyone who had come into the Oval Office was impressed. “I’ve had people come in, they walk in here and they just want to stare for a long period of time,” he said.
Trump famously used an old call button in the Oval Office to order Diet Cokes from his staff. It’s not clear what Biden is using that button for now.
In his Times interview, Trump praised the White House residence, calling it “beautiful” and “very elegant.”
Of the master bedroom, Trump said: “There’s something very special when you know that Abraham Lincoln slept there. The Lincoln Bedroom, you know, was his office, and the suite where I’m staying is actually where he slept.”
“Knowing all of that, it’s different, than, you know, just pure elegance and room size,” Trump added. “There’s a lot of history.”
In the CNN town hall, Biden said the White House was very different from Number One Observatory Circle, the vice president’s residence, and described the relative freedom he had there. “You can ride a bicycle around and never leave the property and work out,” he said.
He described the White House as more restrictive, calling it a “gilded cage, in terms of being able to walk outside and do things.”
Biden said that while he’d been president for only four weeks, it felt like longer.
“And sometimes, because things are moving so fast — not because of burden — it feels like four years,” he said. “It’s not because of the burden, it’s because there’s so much happening that you’re constantly focusing on one problem or opportunity.”