(DAILY MAIL) – 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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Concerns over Biden’s health have also extended to questions of his cognitive health.
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.