OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
President Joe Biden nearly fell down the stairs as he exited Air Force One in Michigan on Tuesday evening, just hours after it was revealed that his campaign team was working hard to keep the president from falling in public during the election season.
The 80-year-old president had just landed in Detroit when he stepped off the jumbo jet at Detroit Metro Airport. Biden was seen slipping around the eighth step before quickly correcting his balance and continuing down the steps.
Earlier this year, the White House doctor diagnosed Biden with “significant spinal arthritis.” Since then, he has had several tripping incidents, prompting many to question his age and fitness to serve as president.
According to Axios, Biden’s team is making a concerted effort to have him wear tennis shoes and limit stair climbs in order to avoid another embarrassing fall.
He is also receiving physical therapy from Drew Contreras, a specialist who previously worked with former President Barack Obama. According to the outlet, Contreras has suggested several exercises to improve the president’s balance.
After his nasty fall at the Air Force Academy in June, Biden began wearing sneakers in public this summer, which observers noticed. He also began boarding Air Force One via shorter stairs to a lower level, another precautionary measure.
Several social media users sounded off over Biden’s near fall, with some calling it “elder abuse.”
This is a sad case of elder abuse. His wife DOCTOR Jill Biden should care enough for him to stop this.
— SovereignSoldier🇺🇲🇺🇲 (@PaulEaton990448) September 26, 2023
I am not a Biden fan but what they are doing to him is elder abuse.
— Jerri Serpas (@JerriSerpas) September 27, 2023
Cmon Brian this is elder abuse what they are doing to Joe Biden. He needs to be home and enjoy his life he has left.
— Maverick🇺🇸 (@jalcazar_23) September 26, 2023
“Some senior Democrats privately have been frustrated with Biden’s advance team for months, citing the sandbag incident and noting that the president often appears not to know which direction to go after he speaks at a podium,” Axios reported.
Biden’s balance difficulties are likely the result of what his physician has diagnosed as “a combination of significant spinal arthritis” and “mild post-fracture foot arthritis.”
A public fall during the election season could derail Biden’s campaign, as he is already being scrutinized for his age.
In an Associated Press poll this summer, 77% said Biden is too old to be effective for another four years, with 89% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats agreeing.
Another poll released this week by the Washington Post and ABC News found that three out of five Democrats would prefer someone else to be the party’s 2024 nominee.
Professor James Gordon, associate dean and chair of the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California, told Axios: “I have never heard the term ‘proprioceptive maintenance maneuvers.’ It is not a clinical term in standard use.”
White House spokesperson Andrew Bates told Axios: “This isn’t new — it was proactively and transparently disclosed in a 2021 report from the president’s doctor and again this year.”
“This article fits an unfortunate pattern of media attempting to sensationalize something that has long been public, rather than covering the president’s very real achievements for hardworking Americans,” Bates added.
Some Democrats are concerned that Biden will have an accident similar to Republican Bob Dole’s in September 1996, when he fell off a stage at a rally just weeks before the election.
Biden’s team believes that any ridicule he receives for taking shorter Air Force One steps and wearing tennis shoes will be worth it in order to avoid another public gaffe.