Biden undergoes annual physical as his age remains campaign issue

President Joe Biden has completed his annual physical at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, at a time when his age continues to be a major concern among voters heading into the November election.

Mr Biden told reporters he would be undergoing the examination before he travelled to the Navy-operated facility in Bethesda, Maryland on Wednesday, departing by helicopter at 9.06am and landing at the hospital’s helipad nine minutes later.

A White House official confirmed that Mr Biden’s visit to the hospital was “for his routine annual physical” and promised that his physician would release a written summary of the findings afterwards. The president finished the exam just before noon after spending over two and a half hours at the facility before returning to the White House via motorcade.

Speaking to reporters several hours later at an event to discuss his administration’s crime-fighting efforts, the president responded to questions about his physical with a joke.

“They think I look too young,” he said.

Joe Biden jokes he ‘looks too young’ after physical

He added a more substantive answer shortly after, telling reporters there was “nothing different than last year” about the results.

“I’m alright, everything is squared away,” he said. “Everything’s great.”

Mr Biden, 81, is the oldest person to ever serve as America’s chief executive.

A lifelong teetotaler and nonsmoker, he is known to exercise regularly, but he has had some health issues in recent years, including spinal arthritis that has caused him to exhibit a stiff gait and skin cancer lesions that were removed from his chest last March.

In a memorandum released by the press office at the time, Physician to the President Dr Kevin O’Connor said a biopsy “confirmed that the small lesion” removed from Mr Biden “was basal cell carcinoma”.

President Biden arrives at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland


All cancerous tissue was successfully removed.

The area around the biopsy site was treated presumptively with electrodesiccation and curettage at the time of biopsy.

“No further treatment is required,” he said.

Dr O’Connor added that the site of the biopsy has “healed nicely” and said the president “will continue dermatologic surveillance as part of his ongoing comprehensive healthcare”.

The president’s age and a number of high-profile verbal slips and gaffes have led many voters to express concern about whether he is physically and mentally up to the job.

After his last physical on 16 February last year, Dr O’Connor — a former US Army doctor who has treated Mr Biden since his time as vice president — said he “remains a healthy, vigorous, 80-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency, to include those as Chief Executive, Head of State and Commander in Chief”.

But the White House has repeatedly declined too make Dr O’Connor available to discuss Mr Biden’s physical condition with reporters, instead claiming that the annual memorandum he issues should be sufficient information for assuaging any concerns over the president’s health or age.

Pressed on the reasons for not making the president’s phyisician available for questions, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre offered a meandering, stem-winding explanation, touching at times on Dr O’Connor’s past military service, as well as the presence of as many as 20 other medical personnel who assisted with Mr Biden’s annual examination.

She also falsely claimed that there was “no precedent” for Dr O’Connor to appear in the briefing room even though one of his predecessor’s, then-US Navy Admiral Dr Ronny Jackson, spent over an hour answering questions on then-president Donald Trump’s physical exam results in January 2018.

“What Dr O’Connor has done is he has put forward over the last two years, a comprehensive, robust — robust memo … that is sent to me and then obviously we disseminate to all of you that lays out — lays out in parts of the President’s physical and I think that’s important. It is — it is robust and it is comprehensive,” he said.

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