Joe Biden's Fall Sparks Conservative Attacks, Progressive Praise

Footage of President Joe Biden tripping as he walks up the stairs to board Air Force One has drawn starkly different, and generally partisan, reactions online.

Conservative critics of Biden seized on the video to suggest he was in poor health or even suffering from dementia—a Donald Trump campaign attack line for which there is no evidence.

Meanwhile, supporters downplayed the falls and focused on his work ethic and achievements around economic stimulus and vaccines, during his brief time in office.

Videos capturing the moment have been widely shared on social media, one Twitter post having been viewed more than 11 million times in less than a day.

Biden was boarding Air Force One in Atlanta, Georgia for a trip to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. After the incident, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield tweeted that Biden was "just fine" and did not require any medical attention.

"Nothing more than a misstep on the stairs," Bedingfield wrote.

Joe Biden just fell 3 times in a row trying to go up the stairs to Air Force One

— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) March 19, 2021

But critics saw the incident differently. Former President Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., offered criticism that was widely shared among conservative circles.

"I'm really looking forward to all the tele-physicians who attacked Trump getting on TV and discussing how Biden's loss of balance and constant loss of train of thought is a serious symptom of neurological deficiency and dementia.... because it is," he tweeted.

Controversial conservative commentator Candace Owens said of the footage, "It's difficult to fall 3 times while going up a flight of steps.

"Managing to make your left shoulder blade hit the carpet in the process is rarely accomplished—even in a game of Twister," before repeating unfounded dementia claims.

Meanwhile, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, Representative for Florida, tweeted: "Joe Biden exudes weakness."

The falling incident follows recent focus on remarks by Biden where he referred to Vice President Kamala Harris as "President Harris," which some critics also took as evidence of a declining mental state. However, Biden has a long history of verbal gaffes and errors. Attacks on his mental capacity were also deployed during the 2020 election.

Those defending Biden drew attention to his recent achievements, particularly highlighting the latest $1.9 trillion stimulus package that gives $1,400 checks to millions of Americans.

Others pointed to the fact that 100 million COVID-19 vaccines have now been distributed. He set out ambitious for his first 100 days in office and some social media users saw a strong work ethic in what the administration had done so far.

"I don't think most people saw #Biden stumble up the stairs! They were too busy spending their stimulus checks!" tweeted comedian and actor DL Hughley

"I don't care if Joe Biden trips on the Air Force 1 stairs stone drunk after an all-nighter, so long as he keeps pounding COVID with this vaccine roll-out," said actor Jeffrey Wright.

"Biden, 78 and recovering from a broken foot, tripped while practically RUNNING up a flight of stairs immediately after overseeing 100 million Covid vaccines," tweeted songwriter Richard Marx. "Trump, 74, couldn't walk DOWN a RAMP unassisted immediately after overseeing 150,000 Covid deaths."

Biden fractured his foot late last year while playing with his dogs but the injury had reportedly "completely healed" by January. Marx is also referring to an incident where Trump was filmed walking slowly and carefully down a short ramp at West Point. The footage caused widespread speculation about this health.

While discussions around Trump's health and mental state were rife during his time in office, no evidence ever emerged to support speculation. Trump tried to paint Biden as being mentally incapable on the campaign trail and the president's conservative critics have returned to the topic now.

Unsubstantiated claims of dementia don't appear to concern Biden's supporters, however, who are concentrating on policy issues like the pandemic and the economy.

President Biden During a Virtual Meeting
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a virtual meeting with Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Micheal Martin in the Oval Office of the White House on March 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden's supporters have shrugged off a video of him tripping while boarding Air Force One. Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

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