By DARLENE SUPERVILLE (Associated Press)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — President Joe Biden quipped that he bought “sandbagged” Thursday after he tripped and fell — however was unhurt — whereas onstage on the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement.
Biden had been greeting the graduates in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on the entrance of the stage with salutes and handshakes, and turned to jog again towards his seat when he fell. He was helped up by an Air Force officer in addition to two members of his U.S. Secret Service element.
Onlookers, together with some members of the official delegation onstage, watched in concern earlier than Biden, who at age 80 is the oldest president in U.S. historical past, returned to his seat to view the top of the ceremony.
“I got sandbagged,” the president instructed reporters with a smile when he arrived again on the White House on Thursday night earlier than pretending to jog into the residence. Two small black sandbags had been onstage supporting the teleprompter utilized by Biden and different audio system on the commencement.
“He’s fine,” White House communications director Ben LaBolt tweeted after the incident. “There was a sandbag on stage while he was shaking hands.”
Biden has been dogged by questions on his age and his health to serve, and his missteps have grow to be fodder for political rivals as he campaigns for a second time period in 2024. He has stumbled earlier than going up the steps and onto Air Force One and he as soon as bought caught up in his bike pedals whereas stopping to speak to reporters close to his house in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
Biden’s private physician mentioned after the president’s most up-to-date bodily examination in February that Biden “remains a healthy, vigorous 80-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.” Dr. Kevin O’Connor additionally documented the president’s stiffened gait, which O’Connor mentioned was the results of spinal arthritis, a beforehand damaged foot and neuropathy within the Biden’s ft.
Biden is much from the primary nationwide political determine to stumble in public.
President Gerald Ford fell down whereas strolling off Air Force One in 1975. GOP Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, the GOP presidential nominee on the time, fell off the stage at a marketing campaign rally in 1996. President Barack Obama tripped strolling up the steps to a stage at a 2012 occasion. “I was so fired up, I missed a stair” he instructed the gang.
President Donald Trump’s gingerly stroll down a ramp on the 2020 West Point graduation additionally sparked considerations about his well being.
Trump, 76, was campaigning in Iowa when he heard about Biden’s stumble and alluded to his personal episode.
“He actually fell down? Well I hope he wasn’t hurt,” Trump mentioned after an viewers member instructed him about what had occurred to Biden. “The whole thing is crazy. You gotta be careful about that … ’cause you don’t want that, even if you have to tiptoe down a ramp.”
The viewers laughed as Trump recounted slowly inching his approach down what he mentioned had been a slippery ramp on the U.S. Military Academy commencement.
“If he fell, it’s too bad,” the previous president mentioned. “We gotta just get this thing back on track. That’s a bad place to fall when you’re making, I think it was the Air Force Academy, right? That’s not inspiring.”
Meanwhile, GOP presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis used the chance to take a political shot at Biden whereas at a marketing campaign occasion in New Hampshire.
“We hope and wish Joe Biden a swift recovery from any injuries he may have sustained,” he mentioned, “but we also wish the United States of America a swift recovery from the injuries it has sustained because of Joe Biden and his policies.”