'Doing fine' after stumbling once, twice, thrice on steps of Air Force One
Supporters of Joe Biden were tempting fate when they claimed he had not put a foot wrong during his first two months in office. The US president managed to fall not once, not twice but three times on his way up a staircase to the Air Force One presidential aircraft on Friday. A White House spokesperson blamed windy weather.
The triple stumble came as Biden, at 78 the oldest person ever elected US president, was departing for Atlanta from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.
About halfway up the red carpeted stairs, Biden could be seen losing his footing before stumbling three times, eventually ending up on his left knee while still holding the railing with his right hand.
The president got back up, gave his left knee a rub and ascended the rest of the staircase before turning and saluting US marines who had flown him by helicopter to the airport from the White House.
Officials insisted there was no damage done. Karine Jean-Pierre, the deputy White House press secretary, told reporters on Air Force One: “It’s very windy. I almost fell coming up the steps myself. He is doing 100% fine.”
Asked if the president was checked by a doctor, Jean-Pierre said only: “I just – all I know is – I can tell you is he’s doing fine. He’s doing great.”
The incident recalled concerns last November when Biden fractured his foot after slipping while playing with his pet dog, a German shepherd called Major.
His notorious verbal gaffes – this week he accidentally referred to vice-president Kamala Harris as “President Harris” – have also been seized on by conservatives as evidence of age-related decline.
Donald Trump Jr, the son of the former president, tweeted sarcastically about Biden’s fall: “Pay no attention to the fact that the President of the United States is so frail that he got knocked over repeatedly by a gust of wind. Nothing at all to see here, folks!”
Trump Jr also tweeted a spoof video in which his father strikes a golf ball which flies through the air and hits Biden on the head, knocking him over. “It wasn’t the wind folks,” he added.
But Biden is hardly alone in suffering the perils of having TV cameras watch his every move. Mike Pence, the former vice-president, stumbled while climbing the stairs to Air Force Two last June.
That same month Donald Trump gingerly walked down a ramp at the US Military Academy at West Point, later explaining that he knew a fall would be exploited by watching media.
Jeffrey Wright, an actor and activist, tweeted: “I don’t care if Joe Biden trips on the Air Force One stairs stone drunk after an all-nighter, so long as he keeps pounding Covid with this vaccine rollout.”
More than a year before he killed eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, the FBI seized a shotgun from Brandon Scott Hole’s home after his mom had called authorities, warning them he might try to commit “suicide by cop”. On Thursday night, the 19-year-old — who worked at the FedEx Ground-Plainfield Operation until 2020 — got out of his car in the parking lot around 11 p.m. local time and “pretty quickly started some random shooting” in the parking lot with a rifle, gunning down four people before going inside the warehouse, where he fatally shot four more, police said.
Former President Trump is showing no signs of wanting to unify the GOP even as party leaders scramble to smooth out divisions that they fear will be damaging in the 2022 midterm elections. In a Saturday night speech to attendees at a donor retreat in Florida, Trump railed against his perceived enemies in both parties and offered little, if any, reassurance that he would try to rally together a GOP riddled with internal divisions and desperate to regain governing power in Washington.
Former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Monday said the "unemployed" former President Trump has nothing better to do than stir up trouble following his departure from Washington. "Here's a guy who's unemployed, has nothing else to do but cause trouble. And clearly, it's obvious to me that he's not going away," Boehner said on "The View."
The Biden administration has struck an agreement with Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras to temporarily increase border security in an effort to stop migrants from reaching the US border. The agreement comes as the US saw a record number of unaccompanied children attempting to cross the border in March, and the largest number of Border Patrol encounters overall with migrants on the southern border – just under 170,000 – since March 2001.