President Joe Biden stumbled multiple times then fell to his knees as he climbed the steps of Air Force One on Friday in the latest of a string of incidents which raise concerns over his health.
Biden, 78, was boarding the aircraft at Joint Base Andrews just before noon for a flight to Atlanta when he stumbled. He gripped on to the railing, steadied himself and kept going but lost his footing a second time and then a third.
On the third trip, he fell to his knees. He got back up then carried on up the stairs before giving a salute at the top then disappearing into the aircraft. Once on the plane, White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that he was ‘100 percent fine’ and was preparing for his trip in Atlanta.
Once he landed in Atlanta, President Biden remained on AF1 a short while until Vice President Kamala Harris – who had flown separately on AF2 – joined him on board. The White House said it was to discuss their agenda for the day.
She then disembarked with him, walking behind him as he slowly descended the stairs.
The fall does nothing to reduce concern for and speculation over Biden’s cognitive health which was has grown in recent months thanks to a series of mix-ups on his behalf.
A White House pool report was issued by the reporters traveling with Biden within seconds of the fall but it was not covered extensively by major news networks for around 30 minutes after it happened and it is missing from the websites of many major outlets.
Republicans including Donald Trump Jr. say the gentle media coverage of Biden’s fall is another example of the ‘mainstream media’ giving Biden the soft treatment after hammering President Trump for four years.
The fall is also the latest in a string of incidents which raise concern over the President’s health and comes a day after he referred to Vice President Kamala Harris as ‘President Harris’.
Donald Trump Jr. said it was ‘no wonder’ the US was being attacked by ‘enemies’ Russia and China when Biden’s health is in question
Biden’s first stumble as he bounded up the stairs of Air Force One
The President recovered and kept going but quickly lost his footing again
Biden then got back on his feet somewhat and carried on walking, clinging on to the railing
The President then lost his balance again and fell to his knees on the carpeted stairs
Biden immediately recovered and got back on his feet to get to the top of the steps
Once at the top of the stairs, Biden gave a military salute before disappearing into the aircraft. The White House says he is 100% fine and is preparing for his trip in Atlanta
The fall was covered by right-leaning sites including The New York Post and Fox but many mainstream media outlets ignored it
The Drudge Report homepage, left, and Fox News, right
The story was totally absent from the homepages of The New York Times and CNN
Earlier this week, Biden also engaged in a bitter stand-off with Russian President Vladimir Putin which ended with Putin wishing him ‘good health’ and withdrawing an envoy to the US which puts the relationship between the two countries in perilous territory.
Biden called Putin a ‘killer’ in an interview earlier this week and also said he will ‘pay a price’ for Russia trying to meddle in the 2016 election.
The White House and Biden’s camp routinely play down concerns about his health and insist he is fit to lead.
White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield tweeted this after the fall
Biden is the oldest President in history; Ronald Reagan was 77 when he left office and he was 69 when he was elected.
Trump was 70 when elected and was 74 when he left office earlier this year.
Throughout his campaign, Biden fought off Trump’s nickname for him – Sleepy Joe.
He also poked fun at Trump’s health once or twice.
In September 2020, when Trump slipped on a wet ramp, Biden, in retaliation for the Sleepy Joe comments, said: ‘Look at how he steps and look at how I step…Watch how I run up ramps and he stumbles down ramps. OK? Come on.’
After Friday’s fall, many asked why the media – which enthusiastically reported on Donald Trump slipping on a ramp – did not give the same zeal to its reporting of Biden’s fall.
Biden disembarked Air Force One with Kamala Harris once he was in Atlanta. She flew separately then, when AF1 was sitting on the tarmac, went on board. The White House says they wanted to discuss their plan for the day. She then walked behind him as he slowly descended the stairs
Kamala Harris gently pats Joe Biden on the back after the pair disembarked AF1 on Friday before boarding Marine One
Biden and Harris at the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday Marcy 19
Donald Trump Jr. tweeted: ‘I remember the press bashing Trump for touching the rail once. Biden falls repeatedly but I’m sure he’s the picture of health. No wonder all our enemies are pouncing simultaneously and mocking him publicly.’
Others asked when media outlets were going to start questioning Biden’s health, as they did Trump’s.
Until recently, Biden was walking in a boot after breaking his foot while playing with his dog, Major, in November.
His doctor at the time said he was otherwise in good health. In December 2019, there were concerns over Biden’s health, in particular leading up to the 2020 election.
He released medical records which showed he has an irregular heartbeat and high cholesterol, but which described him as a ‘healthy, vigorous 77-year-old.’
Some experts questioned whether or not he was as healthy as he claimed.
The President is shown striding towards Air Force One on Friday seconds before he fell over
President Biden trying to regain balance on the steps of Air Force One on Friday after stumbling multiple times
President Biden disappears after stumbling on the steps of Air Force One on Friday
President Biden clings on to the railing as he climbs the steps of Air Force One after stumbling
Before he set off for Joint Base Andrews, Biden’s grandson Robert and his granddaughter Natalie joined his wife Jill at the White House to wave him off from the Truman Balcony as he boarded Marine One
Natalie Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden watch from the Truman Balcony as U.S. President Joe Biden boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on March 19, 2021 in Washington, DC
President Biden blows a kiss to his wife Jill, granddaughter Natalie and grandson Robert before boarding Marine One on the White House Lawn on Friday
Until recently, the President was walking in a boot after breaking his foot while playing with his dog Major in November. He is shown on December 1
President Obama’s personal doctor was among them.
‘He’s not a healthy guy.
‘He’s not in bad shape for his age, but I wouldn’t say he’s in outstanding health.
‘Could I guarantee he won’t have issues for the next four years?
‘He has a lot of issues that are just sort of sitting there,’ he told The Washington Examiner at the time.
There has been serious speculation over Biden’s cognitive decline in recent months after a worrying trouble during the campaign where he routinely confused names and titles.
Days before the election, he became confused when introducing is granddaughter Natalie at an event, and instead referred to her as ‘my son Beau’.
Beau Biden died in 2015 after battling a brain tumor.
The President also has a grandson called Beau, who is the son Hunter Biden and his new wife.
The baby is 11 months old.
Biden and Harris are flying to Atlanta to meet with members of the Asian community after Tuesday’s shootings at three massage parlors.
They had already planned the trip, to meet with failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, before the shootings.