Colorado: US President Joe Biden tripped and fell on stage Thursday (local time) after congratulating graduating cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. Biden, who is the nation's oldest serving president at 80, was quickly helped and walked back to his seat and appeared fine afterwards. Biden had been greeting the graduates in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the front of the stage with salutes and handshakes, and turned to jog back toward his seat when he fell.
The video of Biden’s fall went viral on social media. He was helped up by an Air Force officer as well as two members of his US Secret Service detail. In the viral video, Biden was seen walking without assistance to this seat in the stands. He was also seen smiling and jogging towards his vehicle at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Watch the video here
‘Biden is fine’
The White House said the president was fine after the fall. “He’s fine,” tweeted Ben LaBolt, the White House communications director. “There was a sandbag on stage while he was shaking hands.” Two small black sandbags were on stage supporting the teleprompter used by Biden and other speakers.
Questions have been raised about Biden's age and suitability for office, and his mistakes have been used as political fodder by rivals as he runs for re-election in 2024. He has stumbled before going up the stairs and onto Air Force One and he once got caught up in his bike pedals while stopping to talk to reporters near his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
'I got sandbagged'
President Biden laughed off his embarrassing fall at the Air Force Academy commencement ceremony. Biden quipped that he got “sandbagged”. “I got sandbagged,” the president told reporters with a smile when he arrived back at the White House on Thursday evening before pretending to jog into the residence.
Biden’s personal doctor said after the president’s most recent physical exam 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 also documented the president’s stiffened gait, which O’Connor said was the result of spinal arthritis, a previously broken foot and neuropathy in Biden’s feet.
Trump reacts to Biden's falls
Trump, 76, was campaigning in Iowa when he heard about Biden's stumble and alluded to his own episode. “He actually fell down? Well I hope he wasn’t hurt,” Trump said after an audience member told him about what had happened 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 audience laughed as Trump recounted slowly inching his way down what he said had been a slippery ramp at the U.S. Military Academy graduation.
“If he fell, it’s too bad,” the former president said. “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 opportunity to take a political shot at Biden while at a campaign event in New Hampshire. “We hope and wish Joe Biden a swift recovery from any injuries he may have sustained,” he said, “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.”
Biden is far from the first national political figure to stumble in public. President Gerald Ford fell down while walking off Air Force One in 1975. GOP Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, the GOP presidential nominee at the time, fell off the stage at a campaign rally in 1996. President Barack Obama tripped walking up the stairs to a stage at a 2012 event. “I was so fired up, I missed a stair,” he told the crowd. Former President Trump’s gingerly walk down a ramp at the 2020 West Point commencement also sparked concerns about his health.
(With AP inputs)