In a moment that caught everyone’s attention, President Biden stumbled on stage Thursday while expressing his congratulations to the graduating cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. The audience gasped in surprise as concerned onlookers swiftly rushed to assist the commander-in-chief, helping him regain his footing.

As the president stood up, he gestured towards a black sandbag on the stage, indicating that it was the cause of his unexpected stumble.

The incident occurred after President Biden had concluded his interactions with the graduates, shaking their hands and presenting them with their diplomas following his inspiring commencement address.

Providing reassurance, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre affirmed that the president was in good health as he embarked on Air Force One for his return journey to Washington.

However, another mishap took place shortly after 7 p.m. when President Biden unintentionally “bumped his head on the doorframe” of his Marine One helicopter upon arrival at the White House, as noted in a pool report.

Reflecting on the incidents, President Biden humorously remarked to reporters that he had been “sandbagged” in reference to his tumble.

In response to reporters’ inquiry about his well-being, Biden responded with a smile and a skip as he made his way towards the executive mansion.

Being the oldest president in history and currently pursuing a second term, Biden’s recent stumble adds to a series of incidents where he has tripped or stumbled on the Air Force One stairs, garnering unfavorable media attention and drawing comparisons to a well-known incident involving former President Gerald Ford in 1975.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, 44, conveyed his good wishes to Biden after the stumble, but took the opportunity during a campaign stop in New Hampshire to criticize Biden’s leadership.

“I don’t know if he sustained injuries, but I just want to say that we hope and wish Joe Biden a swift recovery from any injuries he may have sustained,” he said to his supporters. “But we also wish the United States of America a swift recovery from the injuries sustained because of Joe Biden and his policies.”

While addressing a crowd in Iowa, former President Trump, who is a Republican rival of DeSantis for the 2024 election, commented on Biden’s fall, “He actually fell down? Well, I hope he wasn’t hurt.”

At 76 years old, Trump seemed to empathize with Biden’s stumble and reflected on his own challenging moments while serving as commander-in-chief.

Recalling a viral moment from June 2020, Trump remarked, “You gotta be careful about that because you don’t want that, even if you have to tip-toe down the ramp.” He referred to the occasion when he cautiously descended a ramp after delivering a commencement speech at the US Military Academy at West Point.

“That’s a bad place to fall,” Trump later said. “That’s not inspiring.”

Various conservatives wasted no time in responding to the incident. Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, took to Twitter and expressed his hopes for President Biden’s well-being, while also emphasizing the fall as a vivid demonstration of the challenges related to his age in terms of cognitive and physical abilities.

Public figures who are not directly associated with Republican politics also shared their concerns. Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wrote, “Open the Democrat primaries and debates. This isn’t fair to anyone,” highlighting the need for transparency and inclusivity in the political process.

On the other hand, allies of President Biden rallied around him, offering their support and solidarity.

“He’s fine,” White House communications director Ben LaBolt wrote on Twitter. “There was a sandbag on stage while he was shaking hands.”

During his annual physical examination in February, the president received a relatively positive assessment of his overall health. However, the examination did reveal the presence of a skin-cancer lesion, and Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the presidential physician, made note of Biden’s “spinal arthritis” and his somewhat rigid walking pattern.

In his report, Dr. O’Connor stated that Biden’s gait remains stiff, although it has not worsened since the previous year. After careful analysis, the medical team determined that much of the stiffness can be attributed to degenerative osteoarthritic changes, commonly referred to as “wear and tear,” affecting his spine.

A November 2021 report from Dr. O’Connor further explored Biden’s perceptibly stiffer gait. The physician identified a combination of factors, including significant spinal arthritis, a post-fracture “limp and compensation,” and a mild sensory peripheral neuropathy in his feet.

Shortly after winning the 2020 election, Biden fractured his foot. According to his account, the incident occurred when he playfully tugged on the tail of his then-dog Major after taking a shower.

Biden’s age, and the potential implications it holds, have become a significant concern. If he were to serve a second four-year term, he would be 86 years old. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll revealed that only 32% of the public believes Biden possesses the mental sharpness necessary for the role of president.

In September of the previous year, the president’s mental acuity faced intense scrutiny. He asked, “Where’s Jackie?” and searched for the late Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), despite publicly expressing his condolences and even reaching out to her family in August.