President Biden had a border crisis of his own Friday, but closer to home.
The 78-year-old commander in chief stumbled badly on a wind-whipped climb aboard Air Force One in Maryland. The painful ascent is being compared to former President Gerald Ford’s famous slip down the steps in 1975.
White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she also nearly fell.
“It’s pretty windy outside. It’s very windy. I almost fell coming up the steps myself,” Jean-Pierre said, according to the New York Post.
The White House added Biden was “just fine” and did not require medical attention. He was seen rubbing his knee and limping, however, as he slowly walked into the cabin on the way to Atlanta.
He headed to Georgia from Joint Base Andrews with Vice President Kamala Harris to offer solace to Asian Americans and denounce racism just days after a white gunman killed eight people, most of them Asian American women.
The hash tag #Bidenfall was trending on social media, with the expected memes. But others did raise questions about Biden’s age and the wear and tear on him so early into this one-term tenure.
Biden kept moving and focused on his message for Atlanta.
Silence is complicity — and we cannot be complicit.
We have to speak out. We have to act. pic.twitter.com/zJXEoKXOMm
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 20, 2021
The White House pool report stated that “Marine One landed at 11:24 (a.m.) POTUS emerged a couple of minutes later walked with a USAF Officer to steps and fell about half way up steps to AF1. He regained his feet and appeared to fall again … before making his way safely up rest of steps.”
The early scare was followed by a somber appearance.
Biden called on all Americans to stand up to bigotry when they see it, adding: “Our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit.”
Addressing the nation after a roughly 80-minute meeting with Asian American state legislators and other leaders, Biden said it was “heart-wrenching” to listen to their stories of the fear among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders amid what he called a “skyrocketing spike” of harassment and violence against them.
“We have to change our hearts,” he said. “Hate can have no safe harbor in America.”
The president also called the shootings an example of a “public health crisis of gun violence in this country,” as his administration has come under scrutiny from some in his own party for not moving as swiftly as promised on reforming the nation’s gun laws.
Harris, the first person of South Asian descent to hold national office, said that while the motive of the shooter remains under investigation, these facts are clear: Six of the eight killed were of Asian descent and seven of them were women.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.