US President Joe Biden stumbled and fell during a graduation ceremony at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado, where he was presenting diplomas to the graduates. At 80 years old, Biden is the oldest serving president in the nation’s history. He was assisted by Air Force officials in getting back up and continued walking to his seat without any help. The president had been standing for approximately an hour and a half, shaking hands with each of the 921 graduating cadets.
White House Communications Director Ben LaBolt took to Twitter to reassure the public that Biden was fine, explaining that the president tripped on a sandbag on stage while shaking hands. A White House press pool report also confirmed that Biden had tripped on a black sandbag while moving on stage. Footage of the incident shows Biden pointing at the sandbag as he gets back on his feet. He was seen jogging back to his motorcade, seemingly uninjured, when the ceremony ended shortly after the accident.
The president did not take questions upon returning to his plane, but White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that Biden was feeling “totally fine” and had boarded the plane with “a big smile.” Critics have questioned whether Biden is too old to run for a second term as president, with recent polls suggesting that a majority of US voters are concerned about his advanced age. If he wins, he would be 82 at the start of a second term. This fall, in addition to previous stumbles from his bicycle and on the way up the Air Force One stairs, could add to those concerns.
Former President Donald Trump, 76, who is the Republican frontrunner to face Biden in the 2024 White House election, reacted to the incident from a campaign event in Iowa, saying “the whole thing is crazy.” He added, “I hope he wasn’t hurt. That’s not inspiring.” Trump also advised being cautious in such situations, even if it means tiptoeing down the ramp, referring to his own careful walk off a stage that made headlines in 2020. At that time, he explained that the ramp at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York, was slippery and dismissed the ensuing media questions about his own health as fake news.
Biden’s last physical examination was conducted in February. White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor wrote at the time: “The President remains fit for duty, and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations.”
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