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Joe Biden's grandchildren open up about their bond with Obama's daughters

In a candid conversation with Jenna Bush Hager, four of Joe Biden's grandchildren spoke about getting advice from Malia and Sasha Obama, and how they encouraged their grandfather to run for president.
/ Source: TODAY

As Joe Biden prepares to be sworn in to office on Inauguration Day, his grandchildren have turned to some close friends for guidance about being in the public eye as family members of a president.

The Biden grandchildren have leaned on Malia and Sasha Obama, the daughters of former President Barack Obama, who grew up in the public eye from elementary schoolers to teenagers during their father's eight years in office.

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Four of Biden's granddaughters — Naomi, 27; Finnegan, 22; Maisy, 20; and Natalie, 16 — spoke with TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager on Wednesday about the Obama sisters, whom they got to know well when Biden served as Obama's vice president during his administration.

"Maisy and I and Natalie and Naomi have had the privilege of being able to see two of our friends navigate eight years of what was really difficult, and they did so, so beautifully," Finnegan told Jenna, who herself showed the Obama girls around the White House as the daughter of former President George W. Bush.

"And they came out so grounded and humble, and they're so smart and driven, so I think we can only take advice from them."

Maisy, Finnegan and Naomi are the daughters of Biden's son Hunter, 50, while Natalie is the daughter of Biden's late son, Beau, who died at 46 from brain cancer in 2015. They hope to take the lessons learned from the Obama sisters now that their grandfather is in the White House.

"You can only hope to do as well as they did because they just did it so beautifully," Maisy Biden said.

Malia, 22, and Sasha, 19, are now college students who have kept a low profile since leaving the White House.

"But they've been so nice offering advice to us and support," Finnegan said.

Maisy and Sasha are particularly close, having grown up together in Washington, D.C., and played on the same youth basketball team, which was coached by President Obama himself.

"There's a lot of teams that were like, 'This is unfair, they can't have the president be their coach,' but I mean, we won," Maisy said while laughing.

Sports are a big deal for the Biden family. Joe Biden tried to make it to as many of his grandchildren's games as he could when he was vice president.

"He came to, like, every single one of my soccer games, lacrosse games, basketball games," Maisy said. "And it was always funny seeing him show up when I was like, 'I think I just saw you on TV about 30 minutes ago, how did you just end up here?' And he was like, 'Don't worry, I knew it was a big game today.'"

Whether he was busy during the presidential campaign or quarantining during the coronavirus pandemic, Biden always made sure to regularly stay in contact with his grandkids.

"That's something that I feel like some people don't believe when we say that he literally calls, not just, like, one of us every few days," Maisy said. "He calls me, then calls Naomi, then he calls Finn, then he calls Natalie, then he calls Ashley, and then he calls little Hunter."

Family holidays like trips to Nantucket for Thanksgiving have also been time the grandchildren have cherished.

"Thanksgiving is, I think, all of our favorite holiday," Natalie said. "Maisy and I and my grandpa and my uncle and my dad, we used to do the polar bear plunge in Nantucket in November."

"And it was always crazy because they would have to bring all the divers and swimmers and Secret Service for my pop, and it's me and Natalie and him holding hands like sprinting into the water," Maisy said.

Ashley Biden, 39, Joe's daughter with wife Jill, remembers those times as some of her father's favorite memories.

"These women are the loves of his life, and mine," Ashley told Jenna. "But he truly adores them. He adores being a grandfather."

Biden also values their opinion to the degree that he and Jill had a meeting with the grandchildren to decide whether he would run for president because Biden feared dragging them into a contentious campaign.

"We just kind of all agreed that we had to sit my grandparents down face to face and tell them not only that we want them to run, but that we'll be OK if they do run," Naomi said.

"I think it was actually little Hunter who showed him something on his phone, some, like, tabloid story about the family, but then basically said to him we know about these sort of things, we know it's going to be bad, but we have each other, and we know the truth, and we will be OK. And so I think he came out of that meeting feeling a little bit more comforted."

The grandchildren soon became a visible part of his campaign, including an appearance at the Democratic National Convention.

"Well, I mean you've done so many campaigns, but really we started in Iowa and ended up on Zoom," Finnegan said to laughs from her sisters and cousin.

The family was all together as Biden waited nearly a week after the November election before numerous media outlets began projecting him as the winner over President Donald Trump. Natalie even jumped into a seaweed-filled lake for good luck as they tried to pass the suspenseful hours.

"I jumped in," Natalie said. "They were like, 'If you don't jump in, we're going to lose!' So then I jumped in, and my Uncle Hunter came out and said that we won Wisconsin. So ..."

Naomi tweeted a group shot of the family sharing a hug after the election was called in Biden's favor.

"It's like your whole body, I mean everyone was crying, it was just like, we embraced each other and I think we'll always remember that moment," Finnegan said.

The family's pride will once again be on display Wednesday in a moment they will never forget.

"I'm most excited to see what my nan and pop are going to do," Naomi said. "They are so excited, they have so many plans, and it's just a time in their lives and our lives and in America where we have the opportunity to do so much and to do things differently."

There also are some practical changes that Naomi is looking forward to with her grandparents in the White House.

"I'm really excited that they'll be just a few miles away from my apartment, so I can go steal some free food from the kitchen," she said before laughing.