- By Sam Cabral
- BBC News, Washington
White House officials say President Joe Biden is “doing fine” after tripping and falling at an event in Colorado.
He tripped over a sandbag while handing out diplomas at a graduation ceremony for the US Air Force Academy.
Mr Biden, who at 80 is the nation’s oldest president, was helped back to his feet after Thursday’s fall and was uninjured.
“I’m sandbagged!” The president joked to reporters when he returned to the White House that evening.
He stood for about an hour and a half to shake hands with each of the 921 graduating cadets.
Aided by an Air Force officer and two members of his Secret Service detail, the footage shows Mr Biden pointing at one of two sandbags used to prop up his teleprompter.
He was seen walking back to his seat unaided and then jogging in his motorcade after the ceremony.
“There was a sandbag on stage when he shook hands,” White House communications director Ben LaBolt wrote on Twitter. “He’s fine.”
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Mr Biden boarded the plane “with a big smile”, although a reporter noted he did not take questions before the flight.
Critics have said Mr Biden is too old to run for a second term as president.
Recent polls suggest a majority of American voters worry about his advanced age. If he wins, he will be 82 when his second term begins.
This fall, in addition to previous stumbles on his bicycle and climbing the Air Force One stairs, may add to those concerns.
Former President Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner to face Mr Biden in the 2024 White House race, responded to the incident from a campaign event in Iowa, calling the whole thing “crazy”.
“I hope he’s not hurt,” said Mr Trump, 76, who has often joked about Mr Biden’s age. “It’s not encouraging.”
“You have to be careful about that because you don’t want that — you don’t want that. Even if you have to tip toe down the ramp,” Mr. Trump added, referring to his own careful walk from a podium. In 2020.
At the time, he said the ramp at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York was slippery, and dismissed media questions about his health as fake news.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, another contender for the 2024 Republican nomination, responded to the fall during a campaign event in New Hampshire: “We hope and wish Joe Biden a speedy recovery from his injuries.
“But we also want America to recover quickly from the wounds America has suffered because of Joe Biden and his policies.”
Mr Biden’s last physical was in February.
White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor wrote at the time: “The President is fit for duty and fully discharges all of his responsibilities without waivers or accommodations.”
Dr O’Connor said Mr Biden often walked with a “stiff gait” due to wear and tear on his spine and nerve damage in his feet, but his condition was unchanged from November 2021.
Mr Biden is not the first general to lose his footing in front of the cameras.
President Barack Obama climbed the stairs at an event in 2012, while President Gerald Ford fell down the stairs of Air Force One in 1975.