Joe Biden 'Asleep' at Climate Summit Sparks Wave of Criticism and Sympathy

President Joe Biden was seen on camera appearing to fall asleep during a United Nations climate change summit, prompting both criticism and sympathy.

A video posted on Twitter by Zach Purser Brown, a reporter with The Washington Post, showed the president closing his eyes for about 20 seconds during the opening speeches of the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, on Monday. An aide is seen approaching the president, who then opens his eyes and claps as the speech ends.

The video soon went viral, and has been viewed more than 4.6 million times as of early Tuesday. Some criticized the president for the optics of the moment, but others expressed sympathy for the president's jet-lagged state. He arrived in Glasgow after meeting with Group of 20 leaders in Rome.

"America is in crisis, and Joe Biden is asleep at the wheel," House Republicans said in a tweet.

"Jeez... not the best look when you're trying to tell the word to wake up," Piers Morgan tweeted.

Biden appears to fall asleep during COP26 opening speeches pic.twitter.com/az8NZTWanI

— Zach Purser Brown (@zachjourno) November 1, 2021

America is in crisis, and Joe Biden is asleep at the wheel. https://t.co/CnpGgIahyn

— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) November 1, 2021

Rep. Ronny Jackson, who previously served as White House physician under former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, tweeted: "NOBODY in their right mind believes this man is actually running our country. It's so painfully obvious he's not physically or mentally up for the job, that it's EMBARRASSING. He needs to resign. America deserves better than this."

However, others defended Biden, with some suggesting they too would struggle to stay awake during a climate summit. "To be fair, I'd fall asleep during a climate conference too," Natalie Johnson wrote on Twitter.

Daniel Garza tweeted: "I'm giving him a pass on this one: traveling abroad, speaker is monotone, talking points being repeated…."

Ari Fleischer, who served as White House press secretary during George W. Bush's presidency, wrote that it was "hard to blame him."

I'm giving him a pass on this one: traveling abroad, speaker is monotone, talking points being repeated... https://t.co/3mns5dzNWF

— Daniel Garza (@danielggarza) November 1, 2021

Hard to blame him… https://t.co/jB8B2fPqIy

— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) November 1, 2021

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump took the opportunity to mock Biden, alleging that the president "fell asleep" because he could not bear to hear more about global warming.

"Even Biden couldn't stand hearing so much about the Global Warming Hoax, the 7th biggest Hoax in America," Trump said in a statement.

"Biden went to Europe saying Global Warming is his highest priority, and then promptly fell asleep, for all the world to see, at the Conference itself," he added. "Nobody that has true enthusiasm and belief in a subject will ever fall asleep!"

During a speech at the summit, Biden had apologized for Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. "I shouldn't apologize, but I do apologize for the fact the United States, the last administration, pulled out of the Paris Accords and put us sort of behind the eight ball a little bit," he said.

The White House has been contacted for comment.

U.S. President Joe Biden at COP26
President Joe Biden presents his national statement during day two of COP26 at SECC on November 1, 2021 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. Andy Buchanan/Pool-Getty Images