WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – President Joe Biden tripped and fell after handing out the last diploma at a graduation ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado on Thursday, but got up quickly and walked back to his seat.
The 80-year-old U.S. president fell forward, caught himself with his hands, then got up on one knee while helped by three people. He walked back to his seat unassisted.
After Biden was helped up, he pointed behind him, seeming to indicate that he had tripped over a sandbag used to hold the teleprompter in place. He mingled with other officials afterward, smiling and giving a “thumbs up” sign.
Upon returning to the White House, Biden joked to reporters, “I got sandbagged.”
The fall came after a commencement address Biden delivered to a flag-waving audience, warning graduates they will enter service in an increasingly unstable world, citing challenges from Russia and China.
Biden, the oldest person to hold the Oval Office, is running for re-election in 2024. His leading Republican opponent, Donald Trump, turns 77 this month.
[1/3] U.S. President Joe Biden walks to the White House after his trip to Colorado, in Washington, U.S., June 1, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
Trump, asked about Biden’s fall during an Iowa rally, said, “He actually fell down? Well I hope he wasn’t hurt.”
Trump added, “You gotta be careful about that,” even if you have to “tip-toe down a ramp.”
In June 2020, Trump’s slow, careful descent of a ramp at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point had some observers questioning his agility. “The last thing I was going to do is ‘fall’ for the Fake News to have fun with,” Trump had tweeted afterward.
This February, doctors declared Biden healthy and fit for duty after a physical examination, noting the president does not drink alcohol or use tobacco and exercises “at least” five times a week.
Last June, Biden fell as he was dismounting his bicycle, after snaring a foot in a toe clip, but was uninjured.
Polls show Americans are concerned about anyone over age 75 becoming president. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that falls among adults 65 and older are the leading cause of fatal injury for that age group.