Somewhere, Gerald Ford is falling down laughing.
President Biden took a page from his White House predecessor’s playbook on Friday, March 19, tripping three times while ascending a 25-step staircase to board Air Force One. Biden at one point slammed his knee into the metal structure and nearly wound up on all fours.
The 78-year-old president tumbled while boarding the presidential plane to depart for Atlanta from Joint Base Andrewsin Maryland. Video showed Biden grabbing the railing as he began climbing the red-carpeted staircase.
Ford famously skidded down the stairs while leaving Air Force One during a 1975 visit to Austria, with his fall becoming a running “Saturday Night Live” gag featuring Chevy Chase playing the president.
Biden went down about halfway up the stairs, clasping the railing with his right hand. The president bounced back quickly, stopping and turning at the top of the stairs to deliver a crisp salute to the U.S. Marines who helicoptered him from the White House to the airport.
President Joe Biden trips climbing the stairs to Air Force 1 pic.twitter.com/x8UD7q0a48— The Hill (@thehill) March 19, 2021
The president was headed to Atlanta for a meeting with local Asian-Americans following this week’s shootings in the Georgia city. The killing spree at three spas in the city left eight people dead, including six Asian-American women.
Biden did not appear to suffer any injuries in the fall, and White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters onboard Air Force One that he was “doing 100%.” She didn’t say if Biden was checked by a traveling physician after his spill, and suggested the president was a victim of the windy weather.
“I almost fell coming up the steps myself,” said Jean-Pierre. “He’s doing fine.”
Biden, joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, arrived in Atlanta as law enforcement agencies report a sharp spike in hate crimes against Asian-Americans since last year.
Local authorities have said the Tuesday spa shootings likely weren’t influenced by racial animus, though the FBI says it’s not definitely ruling out a hate crime element.
The Air Force One stumble was not Biden’s first misstep since winning the 2020 election. The president fractured his right foot in late November while playing with his dog, requiring him to wear a foot brace for several weeks.
President Trump narrowly missed joining the list of slip-and-fall chief executives after delivering a speech at West Point last June. Trump walked gingerly down a ramp after addressing the academy’s Class of 2020, navigating his way to the bottom one careful step at a time.
Ford, a one-time star football player at the University of Michigan, embraced his pratfall and often made light of the incident — most famously at the annual Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner in 1975.
Source: New York Daily News