Biden's aides try to prevent more age-related stumbles

Biden’s doctor is watching him ‘like a hawk,’ as he uses extra-large font on his teleprompter and has DOUBLED his use of Air Force One’s shorter stairs

  • President Joe Biden’s aides and allies are trying to protect him from more age-related stumbles 
  • Biden, 80, has started almost exclusively boarding Air Force One using the shorter staircase after falling over a sandbag in June 
  • NBC reported Monday that he’s using extra-large font in his teleprompter as well, as his doctor is watching him ‘like a hawk’  

President Joe Biden’s doctor is watching him ‘like a hawk,’ he’s using extra-large font on the teleprompter and has more than doubled his use of Air Force One’s shorter staircase after stumbling over a sandbag in June in Colorado. 

Aides and allies of the 80-year-old president are trying to protect him from more age-related mishaps as he runs for reelection as the oldest person to ever hold the office. 

NBC reported new details Monday, including that Biden is using exra-large font in the teleprompter. The network also crunched the numbers on Biden’s use of the shorter, retractable stairs to board the presidential aircraft.

Before Biden tripped onstage at the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement, he was using the shorter set of stairs to get on and off Air Force One 37 percent of the time.

In the past seven weeks he’s used the shorter staircase 84 percent of the time – 31 out of the 37 times he’s gotten on or off the plane, NBC counted. 

The June 1 incident of President Joe Biden tripping over a sandbag at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s commencement ceremony prompted him doubling how often he uses Air Force One’s shorter staircase  

President Joe Biden is now using Air Force One’s shorter staircase 84 percent of the time (pictured), up from 37 percent of the time before the sandbag tripping incident in June 

Presidents have the option of using a staircase on wheels – with 26 steps to climb – or a shorter, 14-step staircase that folds into the plane. 

The White House won’t officially say accommodations are being made. 

But last week, Politico reported that two Biden advisers privately acknowledged that the president’s now-frequent use of the shorter staircase was intentional to ensure easier travel and minimize the chances of him taking another spill.

The president first lost the battle against Air Force One’s rickety exterior staircase just two months into his tenure, in March 2021, as he headed to Atlanta, Georgia. 

Then in February, as he left Warsaw, Poland – after his secret 10-hour each way train trip into Ukraine – he briefly tripped up the steps again. 

It happened a third time in early March, as the president briefly stumbled as he boarded his plane en route to Selma, Alabama. 

Last June he got his foot stuck in his bike’s toe clamp, falling over sideways in front of a crowd of onlookers and reporters. 

President Joe Biden is now almost exclusively boarding Air Force One using the shorter, retractable stairs (left, pictured on Thursday), after falling up the stairs three times. He stumbled up the stairs in March 2021 (right)

Another angle of President Joe Biden’s March 2021 fall as he boarded Air Force One using the taller, grander staircase at Joint Base Andrews 

President Biden also famously fell off his bike near his Delaware beach house after he had trouble removing his feet from the toe clips last June 

But his biggest stumble of late happened on June 1 with the sandbag. 

One senior aide told NBC that the sandbag had been camouflaged, making it hard to see, but across the administration and the Democratic Party, aides and allies knew the optics were bad. 

‘It happened in seconds,’ one aide told the network, ‘but it’s going to be in front of us for months and maybe years.’ 

That sentiment was echoed by a Congressional Democrat, who was granted anonymity by NBC to talk about the president’s fitness.

‘The number of text messages that I got after the president fell … I mean, my phone was blowing up. People are like, “Oh, this is so bad.”‘ 

The Hill Democrat added that the party ‘needs to be responsive to what people are saying about Biden and their concerns that they have with his age.’

President Joe Biden briefly fell as he walked up the stairs to board Air Force One as he departed Warsaw after a three-day trip to Kyiv and the Polish capital in February 2023

President Joe Biden once again had trouble navigating Air Force One’s stairs – briefly stumbling as he boarded the presidential aircraft as he departed from Selma, Alabama, in March 2023

For the NBC story, several current and former aides went on-the-record and gave testimonials about his vigor. 

Former Labor Secretary Marty Walsh recalled traveling with Biden in 2021 to a Hummer plant in Michigan. 

Biden, Walsh recalled, was dictating revisions to his speech off the top of his head. 

‘I thought to myself, “Wow, I wish more people could see this,”‘ Walsh told NBC. ‘The president isn’t falling down every day, for crying out loud. If you’ve ever given him a hug, you’re going to feel the man is solid. He’s in good shape.’ 

Stefanie Feldman, the White House staff secretary, recalled to the network a time when Biden was returning from a NATO trip when he unexpectedly turned up in the staff cabin of Air Force One. 

Feldman recalled that aides were ‘passed out from exhaustion,’ and ‘the president came out and wanted to thank everyone for their work. I was kicking people to wake them up and engage with the president, who wanted to engage with his staff.’ 

‘If only I had the energy of an 80-year-old President Biden,’ she remarked.  

An aide told NBC that the sandbag had been camouflaged, making it harder for the 80-year-old president to see when he tripped on June 1 at the commencement ceremony for the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado  

The 80-year-old president also has the benefit of around-the-clock medical care.

White House Physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, is always observing Biden ‘like a hawk, whether he wants it or not,’ a close adviser told NBC.  

Dan Coats, the former director of national intelligence in the Trump administration and served alongside Biden in the U.S. Senate, said that nobody at that age is up to the job. 

‘As someone who just turned 80, I strongly believe that we need someone younger, whether it’s on the Democratic side or the Republican side,’ Coats told the network. 

Trump, who’s leading the pack for the 2024 GOP nomination, is not much younger than Biden, at 77. 

‘The weight of the world falls on the shoulders of the president, and right now, we have two disabled presidents,’ Coats continued. ‘Age plays a major factor in this, and people have to think about what the next generation will provide.’ 

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