How Biden, 80, is trying to avoid ANOTHER trip: President is ‘doing balancing exercises with a physical therapist, wearing new sneakers to stop slipping and using shorter stairs’
- Biden has taken more precautions against falling since he took a dramatic tumble at the Air Force Academy in June
- Polls show a majority of voters are concerned about his health
- New report in Axios outlines measures being taken to help the president
President Joe Biden is doing balancing exercises, wearing sneakers and using the shorter stairs on Air Force One as he embarks on a new campaign: to avoid tripping and falling.
The president, 80, has taken several stumbles in his nearly three years in office – falling while boarding Air Force One, tripping on various staircases, and taking a dramatic tumble at the Air Force Academy when he encountered a sandbag.
Now, as polls show a majority of voters are increasingly concerned about his age, Biden’s team is taking extra steps to prevent him from stumbling in public, Axios reported, betting that any mockery he receives will be worth it to avoid a public tumble.
And there has been some mockery. The president broke the internet in July when he wore Skechers without socks before boarding Air Force One to head to a NATO summit in Europe, with users fiercely debating whether or not bare feet were acceptable.
But the White House also has to deal with legitimate questions about the president’s health. Biden is the oldest president in American history and, if he wins a second term, would be 86 at its completion.
President Biden wore sketchers without socks in July when he used the lower stair case of Air Force One to board the plane
Biden has taken more precautions to avoid tripping after his dramatic fall at the Air Force Academy in June
Biden took to wearing sneakers and using the shorter stairs on Air Force One more frequently since tripping over a sandbag at the Air Force Academy’s graduation ceremony, leaving him sprawled on the ground and getting helped up by officials.
That smaller stair case – which goes into the belly of the 747 – is about half the size of the stair case that is used to access the upper part of the plane: 14 stairs versus 26.
The White House has said many factors go into deciding what stair case is used but didn’t detail the process.
‘I don’t have any decision process to walk through,’ White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in June. ‘I’m sure there’s a protocol that’s used for Air Force One. I just don’t have one.’
She pointed to Biden’s annual physicals, arguing the administration has been transparent about the president’s health.
In both reports on Biden’s physicals, the president’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, noted the president has suffered from a ‘stiffened ambulatory gait.’ Biden fractured his foot during the 2020 presidential campaign and had to wear a boot.
O’Connor recommended physical therapy – specifically ‘proprioceptive maintenance maneuvers’ – and shoe orthotics to help with his walking.
Proprioception training focuses on the sense of body positioning in space and can involve balancing exercises, tai chi, and yoga.
Biden, who works out most mornings at the White House gym, has been doing balancing exercises with Drew Contreras, who was a physical therapist in the Army and worked with Barack Obama when he was in the White House.
President Biden has been wearing sneakers more – above he dons the casual footwear in September when exiting the White House with first lady Jill Biden
Biden also has been using the lower stair case of Air Force One more frequently – only 14 stairs compared to the 26 stairs on the bigger stair case
He’s also been wearing sneakers more since he tripped in June – a moment that went viral on the internet, causing the country to collectively wince and critics to pounce.
White House spokesman Andrew Bates mocked the latest report on Biden’s footwear and physical therapy.
‘Move over, tan suit!,’ he wrote on X. ‘Can confirm: @POTUS is one of the millions of Americans with sneakers. Notice that when others do the same, the media’s tone is different?’
The president is not the only politician to wear the more casual shoes.
There was a massive debate on men’s footwear in May, when Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, Senator Mitch McConnell, and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries all wore sneakers in the Oval Office.
Some commentators bemoaned the informality. Others defended a man’s right to wear the ‘dress sneaker.’
But, behind the optics, is genuine concern about Biden’s advanced years. And Republicans are turning it into a political issue, often posting online videos that show Biden appearing to be lost or confused, stoking speculation about his health.
In addition to his physical stumbles, Biden has made verbal gaffes and, at times, struggled for words.
This summer, on Take Your Child to Work Day, Biden appeared to forget how many grandchildren he had when he spoke to the children of White House staff.
‘So, let me see. I got one in New York, two in Philadelphia — or is it three? No, three, because I got one granddaughter who is — I don’t know. You’re confusing me,’ he said.
He also couldn’t name the last country he had visited or his favorite movie.
White House staff have defended the president as engaged and energetic.
And, O’Connor, in his last report on Biden’s health said the president was ‘fit for duty, and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations.”
The White House defends President Biden as engaged and energetic. The president, a frequent bike rider, goes for a ride in Rehoboth in August
MARCH 2021: Biden’s first stumble as he bounded up the stairs of Air Force One. The White House blamed the wind for his struggles
Multiple polls, however, have shown voters are worried about the matter. An NBC poll released on Sunday found 74% of voters are concerned with Biden’s age as the country prepares for next year’s election.
For all his stumbles and gaffes, at other times, the president has been sharp, quipping with the best of them.
‘You say I’m ancient?’ he said in April at the White House Correspondents dinner. ‘I say I’m wise.’
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