President Biden retreated to Nantucket, where he normally finds reprieve from the demands of running the country, but pro-Palestinian protesters managed to track him down and remain a reminder of the troubles waiting for him.
The protesters found Biden twice on Friday, once as he departed lunch with his family and again when they attended a tree-lighting ceremony. Each time, they shouted now-familiar slogans, including “Free Palestine” and “Biden, Biden, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide!”
If the president heard them, he didn’t let them know: Biden focused on greeting members of the children’s choir who performed at the tree lighting. A local official tried to dissuade the protesters from interrupting the ceremony, stressing that it was not a political event.
Biden’s staunch support for Israel has come at a price as his party finds itself divided over the war in the Gaza Strip. His polling numbers have slumped as younger voters and members of his party stand in favor of the Palestinian people, who have died by the thousands during Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza.
NBC political correspondent Steve Kornacki earlier this week highlighted just how hard Biden’s numbers have fallen by revealing that former President Trump beats Biden in a hypothetical general match-up for the first time in the network’s poll history.
“The gap is gone,” Kornacki said. “36% positive on both and actually Biden, one point more negative than Trump. That’s been a significant advantage for Biden, our poll says that advantage, at least for now, may be gone.”
Biden had to delay the start of his annual post-Thanksgiving unwind with the family as he spent Friday morning attending multiple briefings with national security aides, who were updating him as Hamas released the first phase of hostages per their agreement with Israel as part of a four-day ceasefire.
He then managed to catch up with the family for their regular lunch, which preceded some local shopping and mingling with the Nantucket crowd before the tree lighting. The family ate at the Brotherhood of Thieves bar and grill, which promotes itself as a “1840s whaling bar.”
The president walked out of Nantucket Books with a copy of Democracy Awakening by historian Heather Cox Richardson, who interviewed Biden at the White House last year. He remarked that he couldn’t visit Nantucket “without going to the book store . . . we’ve got a tradition.”
The last stop before the tree lighting saw the Bidens’ stop off at the Jeweler’s Gallery, where a crowd wished him a happy birthday and took photos with the first family.
The Bidens arrived on Nantucket Tuesday night, taking up residence at the home of billionaire David Rubenstein. Secret Service prepared the island five days ahead of Air Force One touching down, including a surge of Massachusetts State Police Troopers to boost security.
Rubenstein, a friend of the Bidens whose net worth is estimated at over $3.5 billion, has offered his property to the family for their Thanksgiving celebrations since at least 2021, Forbes reported. He acquired the property in 1998 for $8 million with his ex-wife, Alice, and has expanded the compound with five additional guest structures.
The lavish coastal property on Abram’s Point includes several guest houses, a tennis court, a hot tub and a pool and has an estimated total value of more than $34 million, according to the Nantucket Assessor’s office.
FOX Business’s Chris Pandolfo and The Associated Press contributed to this report.