President Joe Biden has made a few changes to his routine to accommodate his declining mobility in the leadup to the 2024 election cycle heating up.
Some of the changes have been subtle enough that only the reporters among the White House press pool would notice.
For example, over the past few months, Biden has been increasingly seen wearing sneakers, often without socks.
A person close to the White House told Politico that Biden has resisted wearing anything other than dress shoes, which he believes to be the most appropriate footwear for a world leader.
But Biden’s gait has become stiff, as noted by his doctor in his annual physical, and the sneakers provide more stability and grip.
He has also started using a shorter set of retractable stairs to board Air Force One, forgoing the grand main staircase and doorway often seen in photographs.
Typically, the president would only use this entrance when inclement weather made it dangerous or impossible to roll a larger set of portable stairs to the plane.
Yet a few months ago, Biden began regularly boarding this way, doing so on every flight during his European trip except a few where photo ops were prearranged.
White House Dodges Questions About Biden’s Health
Bloomberg’s Justin Sink asked press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about this change during one of her in-flight press gaggles.
Was Biden experiencing new “mobility issues”, he asked, or was the change “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?”
“I don’t have any decision process to walk through,” Jean-Pierre replied, dodging the question. “I’m sure there’s a protocol that’s used for the — for Air Force One. I just don’t have one.”
Indeed, Biden has struggled to stay confidently on his feet over the past year.
The most notable incident to date happened at the beginning of June during the Air Force Academy graduation, when Biden could not recover from a stumble and fell to the ground.
Even with his new shoes and the lower staircase, Biden was observed stumbling slightly while boarding Air Force One in Helsinki last Thursday.