Report: Joe Biden Uses Shorter Air Force One Staircase to Hide Mobility Problems

President Joe Biden walks up the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Th
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

President Joe Biden now uses the shorter steps to board Air Force One instead of the usual staircase that he often trips upon while boarding the plane, Politico reported Thursday in a 19-paragraph article.

Politico, which frequently tries to protect the Bidens from political liabilities, such as its infamous reporting on the “laptop from hell” in 2020, permitted reporters Eli Stokols and Jonathan Lemire to write an article on Thursday about  Biden’s deteriorating physical well-being.

“Biden downplays age talk — but subtle accommodations are being made,” the headline read with the subtitle, “From the dinners declined, to the way he boards Air Force One and the shoes he wears, Biden’s routines are changing.”

The article highlighted his growing physical infirmities and his new use of the smaller steps at the back of Air Force One to board the plane:

Biden boarded [Air Force One] using the shorter set of retractable stairs that fold into the belly of the plane. The routine began a few months ago, the president increasingly avoiding the grander, more traditional doorway near the front of the aircraft on the main passenger level, higher above the tarmac.

Last week, Biden used the small steps to board Air Force One for every flight on his European trip: to London, Vilnius, Helsinki and back to Washington. None of those arrivals or departures — all of which are public and witnessed by the traveling press pool — were marked by inclement weather. He used the large stairs to descend from the plane upon arrival in London, Vilnius and Helsinki, when his hosts arranged more formal greeting ceremonies, but not to climb back aboard. And the overseas trip came on the heels of several recent domestic ones where Biden predominantly used the lower stairs on visits to and from Rocky Mount, N.C., Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

On Thursday, the press again pictured Biden walking up the shorter steps:

Two Biden advisers told Politico the president’s decision to walk up the smaller steps was “an intentional shift” to “make his travel easier and limit the possibility for missteps”:

The new routine looks to be another subtle accommodation to the president’s age. It is hiding in plain sight, although the White House won’t concede that interpretation. Three weeks ago when the president traveled to New York, again using the lower stairs to board, Bloomberg’s Justin Sink pressed press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about it during her in-flight gaggle. Was Biden having “mobility problems,” Sink asked, or was it “to address — you know, he’s had a couple incidents falling on the stairs getting up and you guys just decided that it would be better for him?”

In February, Biden took a physical examination that found he suffers from a stiff gait and neuropathy in the feet. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Neuropathy refers to any condition that affects the nerves outside your brain or spinal cord.”

Biden’s neuropathy might explain why he often trips:

According to recent polling, strong majorities of Americans believe Biden is too old for another term as commander-in-chief and hold concerns about his “health and mental acuity.” A plurality of U.S. adults believes his age and health “severely” limit his ability to do his job.

President Joe Biden is helped up after falling during the graduation ceremony at the United States Air Force Academy on June 1, 2023 (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images).

Nearly half of independent voters say the 80-year-old’s health and age “severely limit” his ability to discharge his duties even as he readies to run again in 2024.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.


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