President Biden stumbled and fell after giving a speech and distributing certificates to graduates of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on Thursday. Mr. Biden, who is 80, was helped and appeared to be making a fast recovery.
Mr. Biden’s fall was caught on video and spread on social media. He appears to stumble, fall to his knees, and catch himself with his hands on the stage floor. He was assisted by several Air Force officials and Secret Service agents, and returned to his seat.
Mr. Biden had just given a lively speech to Air Force grads before helping hand out certificates. He fell after handing out the final certificate and returned to his seat.
He’s fine,” said Ben LaBolt, the White House communications director, in a tweet Thursday afternoon. “There was a bag of sand on stage while he was shaking hands.”
Awkward moments are not uncommon for presidents who spend most of their term in front of cameras. President Gerald Ford has been roasted time and time again by comedians for his frequent stuttering during his presidency.
President Donald J. Trump, the day before his 74th birthday in 2020, appeared sluggish and unsteady as he walked downhill from the podium after the West Point Commencement Ceremony, prompting online speculation about his health.
For Mr. Biden, who is already America’s oldest president and is asking voters for a second term until he turns 86, a stumble at Thursday’s inauguration ceremony is likely to add questions about his physical condition.
The president’s physician at the White House acknowledged that Biden’s gait had stiffened significantly with age, resulting in a much slower and less stable gait. He stumbled into the past: In February, he stumbled and grabbed himself by the hand while he was boarding Air Force One on his way back from Warsaw.
Republicans have seized on the president’s stumbles as evidence he is unfit for office, and some were quick to point to Biden’s downfall on Thursday.
“We hope and wish Joe Biden a speedy recovery from any injuries he may have sustained, but we also wish the United States of America a speedy recovery from the injuries it sustained because of Joe Biden and his policies,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is a presidential candidate, said during remarks in New Hampshire on Thursday.
But people close to Mr. Biden, including several of his staff, insist he remains extremely fit and often has the energy to survive long, grueling days. They say he exercises daily and is not overweight.
Mr. Biden himself has acknowledged that questions about his age are legitimate, and before dropping by Thursday, he included a joke about his age in his remarks to the alumni.
“When I graduated from high school 300 years ago, I applied to the Naval Academy,” he said, making him laugh.
Karen Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, told reporters traveling with the president as he returned to Washington from Colorado on Air Force One that the president was feeling “completely fine.”
After returning to Washington, Biden appeared to be in good spirits. After hitting his head on the door frame of the presidential helicopter, he joked to reporters outside the White House about the fall, saying he was “sandbaged” before jumping once and heading inside.