NPR Explains the ‘Dramatic Change’ Behind Joe Biden’s Use of the Short Stairs on Air Force One

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

No matter how hard they try to hide it, the Biden White House just cannot escape questions about whether or not Joe Biden is too old and physically unwell to run for a second term in office.  


Voter concerns have been consistent in polls going back three years, with one thing majorities of Republicans and Democrats now agreeing on is the need for youngish leaders in the Oval Office (and in Congress) who can stand up to the daily rigors of life as an elected official, people who won't need to rely on their spouses to choreograph their every move or answer that urgent 3 a.m. call on their behalf, nor someone dressed in a bunny rabbit costume to run interference.

In other words, someone who isn't 80 years old or closing in on it.

One thing that has stood out to many over the summer in addition to Biden's umpteen vacations is the switch he made back in June to using the short stairs for Air Force One.

RNC Research, which reportedly is the White House's least favorite Twitter account, has often posted video clips of Biden using them. Here's one example:

Biden, as we all know, has had quite a few stumbles during his time as President, with perhaps the most infamous (and concerning) ones being when he allegedly "tripped" over a sandbag during an Air Force Academy commencement ceremony in June and fell to the stage, and the alarming March 2021 incident where Biden lost his footing three times going up the stairs to Air Force One, with his left knee and shin awkwardly connecting with a stair at one point.


And on the eve of Biden getting set to head out for yet another vacation, we learn that NPR, too, has taken notice of the increased frequency of Biden using the short stairs over the last three months. They provided this explainer of what they called the "dramatic change" in how he boards one of America's most recognized aircraft:

The short stairs have the distinct advantage of moving most of Biden's ascent into Air Force One out of public view. But for those who have noticed the shift, it also draws attention to one of Biden's greatest political liabilities as he seeks reelection: his age.

Biden had been using the short stairs now and then since taking office, but an NPR review of two databases of news photographs show that there's been a dramatic change since June. That's when Biden tripped over a sandbag and fell on stage at the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation.


When the American president travels, every detail is carefully choreographed, right down to the stairs the president uses to get on and off Air Force One. Kent Gray, who has worked for two Republican presidents and nine presidential campaigns, is in the business of working out all the small details, making sure everything looks just right.

"Very few people have noticed that he's mostly using the smaller stairs," Gray told NPR. "But everybody's going to notice if there's a really bad slip and fall down the tall air-stairs."


They also quoted an "aging expert" who made a rather obvious point about the need for people as they get older to be smarter about how and when they take stairs:

"If President Biden is adjusting his normal pattern of moving from point A to point B to lower his risk of falling, yeah, sure — that's exactly what he should be doing," said Olshansky. "That's what all of us should be doing to protect ourselves as we get older."

The problem for the Biden team and his infamous handlers, though, even if his use of the short stairs decreases the likelihood of him falling - or being seen falling - that still doesn't change how he looks and acts during public appearances, with the blank stares, bizarre stories, and calling out for deceased people only further proving the point that it's time for Biden to retire so he can relax at home and the beach while doing some quiet reflecting on his decades in public life.

Flashback -->> Opinion: It’s Time to Address the Cruelty of Jill Biden


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