President Joe Biden has recently changed up his airplane staircase routine, forgoing the regular, larger steps for retractable, shorter ones.
The staircase change began earlier in 2023, with the president more frequently using the 14 steps at the back of the plane that are closer to the ground, Politico reported Wednesday. The apparent change coincides with the president slipping several times on the stairs and taking a massive tumble at the Air Force Academy ceremony. (RELATED: White House Responds To Biden’s Fall)
The 80-year-old president has also made a “concession” to wearing sneakers for comfort, according to the outlet, and has skipped several late-night formal dinners during international trips.
The president and his aides have defended the public’s concerns about Biden’s mental state and physical abilities throughout his administration. On the use of the lower Air Force One stairs, the White House said the choice of steps is based on a multitude of factors, including bad weather calls, according to Politico.
“There are a series of factors that go into the logistical decision-making on this, including weather, what kind of airport we’re landing at and whether there is a formal greeting planned for the tarmac where we expect that press will want an official photo at the bottom of the tall stairs,” an unnamed White House official told the outlet. “There’s not one hard and fast rule — it is a decision made on a variety of factors in a wide range of settings and circumstances.”
Biden was spotted using the lower steps in good weather conditions during his trips to London, Vilnius, Helsinki, Washington, D.C., North Carolina, Chicago, San Fransisco and Philadelphia, according to the outlet.
Two anonymous Biden advisers said the shift to the smaller steps was an intentional decision for easier travel and to limit the possibility of missteps, Politico reported.
Bloomberg’s Justin Sink asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in late June what was “going on” with Biden’s staircase use and if the president has any “mobility problems.”
“I don’t have any decision process to walk through. I’m sure there’s a protocol that’s used for the — for Air Force One. I just don’t have one,” Jean-Pierre responded.
— Doug Mills (@dougmillsnyt) July 14, 2023
On Biden’s increased use of sneakers, one person close to the president told Politico that Biden used to “resist” wearing the comfort shoes out of concern about looking unpresidential, but that he has eased into wearing the shoes more often.
The White House revealed Biden uses a CPAP machine in his sleep to aid his sleep apnea condition after lines were spotted on the president’s face.
Biden has said voters should take a “hard look” at his age during his reelection campaign.
“With regard to age, I can’t even say, I guess how old I am, I can’t even say the number. It doesn’t register with me. But the only thing I can say is that one of the things that people are going to find out is, they’re going to see a race, and they’re going to judge, whether or not I have it or don’t have it. I respect them taking a hard look at it. I’d take a hard look at it as well, I took a hard look at it before I decided to run,” Biden said in April. “I feel good and I feel excited about the prospects, and I think we’re on the verge of really turning the corner in a way we haven’t in a long time.”