Skip to content

Biden falls at graduation, but gets back up and finishes ceremony

Press secretary says he's 'totally fine,' with pool reporter saying he pointed at a sandbag

President Joe Biden is helped up after falling during the graduation ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Academy in El Paso County, Colo., on Thursday.
President Joe Biden is helped up after falling during the graduation ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Academy in El Paso County, Colo., on Thursday. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden fell after handing out the final diploma during a graduation ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado on Thursday, the second time the 80-year-old has tumbled since taking office.

Biden turned to return to his seat as the ceremony neared its end when he tripped and went to both knees, his right arm breaking his fall. An Air Force official and two Secret Service agents quickly reached the fallen president and helped him to his feet, according to videos posted on social media.

After being helped up, Biden pointed at an object on the stage and appeared to indicate he tripped on it. A reporter traveling with Biden sent a dispatch indicated the object was a sandbag. The reporter said the president stood until the ceremony ended a few minutes later.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, traveling with Biden, later told the pool reporter the president is “totally fine” and wore a “big smile” as he boarded Air Force One.

Biden has twice stumbled while climbing airport tarmac staircases while boarding Air Force One, once a few months after taking office in 2021 and again while departing Warsaw earlier this year. Conservative social media users reacted to Thursday’s fall immediately with a mix of declarations he is too old for office or jokes about his physical condition.

Former President Donald Trump, 76, already is attempting to make Biden’s age a 2024 campaign issue.

Biden is not the first senior U.S. official to take a tumble this year, after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tripped and fell at a fundraising event in Washington, D.C. The Kentucky Republican, 81, missed several weeks of Senate work after suffering a concussion and injuring his ribs.

Collectively, their tumbles underscore the ages of many top leaders heading into what promises to be a heated election cycle.

Voters will decide about Biden’s age in November 2024. If he seeks reelection, Kentuckians would decide on McConnell’s two years later.

Biden’s motorcade left the Air Force Academy stadium that hosted the ceremony at 2:59 p.m. Eastern time.