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Biden focuses on issues that often fuel GOP campaign attacks

Roundtable on crime follows annual physical, a day before he’s set to visit border

Asked about getting his annual physical on Wednesday, President Joe Biden said doctors said he was “too young.”
Asked about getting his annual physical on Wednesday, President Joe Biden said doctors said he was “too young.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Joe Biden’s record on crime and border policies, as well as his personal health, have been fodder for plenty of attacks from former President Donald Trump — but the White House is trying to play on that turf.

The incumbent president had his annual physical Wednesday morning at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, telling reporters at the White House later in the day that nothing had changed about his personal health.

“They think I look too young,” said Biden, 81. “There is nothing different than last year.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked multiple times why the president did not have a cognitive test as part of the physical. She said that members of the medical team, including a neurologist, said that no such testing was required.

The president commented on the results of the medical exam ahead of a roundtable with chiefs of police from around the country about crime reduction efforts. As he often does, Biden referenced his track record of working to reduce crime rates going back to his time as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Last year, the United States had one of the lowest rates of all violent crime — of all violent crimes in more than 50 years.  Murder, rape — murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery all dropped sharply, along with burglary, property crime, and theft.  And it matters,” Biden said. “As president, public safety — public safety and crime reduction is a top priority for my administration and for me.”

The White House released a detailed memo from the president’s physician, Kevin O’Connor, Wednesday afternoon, citing no particularly new issues.

“President Biden is a healthy, active, robust 81-year-old male, who remains fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency, to include those as Chief Executive, Head of State and Commander in Chief,” O’Connor wrote. The memo also said “there were no findings which would be consistent with any cerebellar or other central neurological disorder.”

At the crime event, Biden was introduced by Police Chief James E. White of Detroit, one of the eight major cities or metropolitan areas represented at the roundtable. Not on the list provided by the White House was anyone from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., where increasing crime has been an outlier.

On Thursday, Biden is traveling to Brownsville, Texas, for briefings about the situation at the border.

Combining the two issues, the Republican National Committee criticized the president’s crime remarks Wednesday for not including reference to the murder of Laken Riley, a University of Georgia student allegedly killed by an undocumented migrant. “Lives of everyday Americans have been shattered as a direct result of Biden’s open border policies — and he doesn’t care,” RNC rapid response director Jake Schneider said.

The president’s trip comes the same day that Trump is expected to be in Eagle Pass, Texas, another border community several hundred miles from Brownsville. Jean-Pierre previewed part of the president’s likely message Thursday, highlighting a stalled bipartisan border security package that was tossed aside from the Senate’s bipartisan foreign policy supplemental spending bill after GOP opposition. The White House contends that the president’s U.S.-Mexico border trip is not a “stunt,” a term frequently applied by Democrats to recurring Republican visits.

“It’s very different. What House Republicans have done is nothing, absolutely nothing. If anything, they consistently get in the way … of what the president is trying to do to get more resources. They are turning this into a political stunt by listening to Donald Trump and saying that they need to kill it,” Jean-Pierre said.

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