President Biden made a surprise Christmas Eve visit to a Washington children’s hospital Friday, hoping to cheer up kids who will spend the holiday receiving medical treatments.
Biden showed patients at Children’s National Hospital a photo of his new puppy Commander, a German shepherd who replaced the nippy former first dog Major.
“How are you doing? Hi. Hi!” Biden said upon arrival as he peeked over the top of a young boy’s stroller.
An elementary school-aged boy told the president and first lady Jill Biden his Christmas wish was “for my cancer to be gone forever.”
“Pretty cool, Danny,” the president said.
“We’re hoping your cancer will be gone too,” the first lady added.
A girl named Chloe, who drew a snowman on a paper bag that will be illuminated by a tea candle, said she was thankful to hospital staff for making her feel better.
“You’ll be out of here. When you get out, you got to come see me in the White House,” Biden said.
The president then approached a bald child and told him, “I had the same operation you did.”
It’s unclear to what procedure Biden was referring. The president has received treatment for a brain aneurysm and sinus surgeries to reduce congestion, among other operations.
“Do you know we just got a new dog?” the first lady asked the children. “His name is Commander and this morning he was eating my slippers.”
The president then pulled out a smartphone and showed a photo of the puppy to the kids, telling them that Commander was “15 weeks old.”
Biden’s cellphone habits and security measures to secure his devices aren’t widely known.
After leaving the hospital, the first couple took a circuitous route back to the White House so that they could stop by an Italian restaurant’s large outdoor Christmas tree topped with a photo of Jill Biden.
Floriana, located a mile north of the White House, has a tradition of honoring Democratic politicians on its seasonal tree. In January, the restaurant was visited by Vice President Kamala Harris after adopting a “Kamala la-la-la-la la-la-la-la” tree theme and placing large photos of the incoming VP on its coronavirus-friendly outdoor dining tents.
In 2018, an ornament of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pounding a gavel crowned the tree.
Upon returning to the White House, the president remarked on the unseasonably warm weather in Washington, telling reporters: “It’s more like Easter than Christmas.”
The Bidens will spend Christmas at the White House with their extended family before making a post-Christmas trip to their private home in Wilmington, Del.