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It was a shorter distance through US history from the White House to the Soviet Union or North Korea than to an autoworkers picket line in Michigan.
Presidents like to be the first to do something, particularly if it offers them an historic photo opportunity.
President Joe Biden added a presidential first when he joined an United Auto Workers picket line of a General Motors facility in Michigan on Tuesday.
In this case, Biden is happy to be seen as the labor-friendly president as he duels with former President Donald Trump for the pivotal support of union workers in Michigan and other key states.
Previous presidential firsts were wrapped in other events.
The first US president to visit the Soviet Union was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who took part in the Yalta Conference in 1945 with Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The goal was for the Americans, the Soviets and the British to organize post-war Europe. (Yalta, a resort town and part of Crimea, was invaded by Russia in 2014.)
No president would visit the Soviet Union again until Richard Nixon traveled to Moscow in 1972, when he and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev reached agreements, including to limit nuclear weapons.
Some firsts require physical travel. Harry Truman was the first president to travel, in a sense, into American living rooms. He gave the first televised presidential address in 1947 as he pitched the Truman Doctrine to the American people from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.
He argued in favor of large investments in a massive aid program for Greece and Turkey, which were dealing with displaced populations and food shortages. Read more from the National Archives. That effort resonates today as American lawmakers consider sending ever more aid to Ukraine.
Honorable mentions: In 1922, Warren Harding became the first president to be heard on the radio. In 2015, Barack Obama was the first president to post on Twitter, now known as X, although Trump clearly revolutionized the use of social media from the Oval Office.
Obama was also the first sitting president to appear on a late-night comedy program as president in 2016, although John F. Kennedy appeared on the Jack Paar show as a presidential candidate in 1960.