WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden remains a “healthy, vigorous 80-year-old male who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency,” the White House physician said Thursday after the president received his first physical exam in a year and a half .
One small lesion, however, was removed from the president’s chest during the examination and will be sent for a traditional biopsy, Biden’s physician, Kevin O’Connor, said in a letter that otherwise mostly reflected his last medical checkup from November 2021.
Biden’s physical routine has taken on extra scrutiny as the octogenarian is widely expected to announce a reelection bid in the coming weeks or months. Already the oldest person to assume the presidency, Biden would be 86 at the end of a second term.
In search of the perfect president:What Americans say they want, from age to gender
The results of the biopsy are pending. O’Connor observed that Biden’s gait remains stiff but has not worsened since his physical strength in 2021, attributing stiffness to spinal arthritis, a previously broken foot and mild neuropathy in his feet.
The neurological exam shows no brain disorders, motor weakness
Biden underwent an “extremely detailed” neurological exam that O’Connor said uncovered no findings consistent with a brain or central neurological disorder, such as a stroke, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease.
The exam did show a “mild peripheral neuropathy” in both feet, O’Connor said. Biden did not demonstrate any motor weakness, the physician said, but showed a subtle difference in heat/cold sensation. O’Connor stressed that Biden’s symptoms have not progressed and have actually improved since his last exam.
Biden, who had a COVID-19 infection in July, followed by a rebound case, has not experienced any residual symptoms associated with “Long COVID,” O’Connor said.
Biden weighs 178 pounds and had a blood pressure rate of 128/76 and pulse rate of 69, the physician’s report said. That’s six pounds less than the 184 pounds he weighed in 2021.
Biden experiences occasional bouts of gastroesophageal reflux, which causes him to clear his throat often and may contribute to occasional coughs and sinus congestion, the report said. The symptoms are typically exacerbated shortly after meals. The physician said he would continue to take the acid blocker Pepcid.
While Biden acknowledged that questions about his age are legitimate, he has also insisted he is capable of serving four more years.
“Watch me,” Biden has said more than once, including in an interview last week.
“I would be completely, thoroughly honest with the American people if I thought there was any health problem, anything that would keep me from being able to do the job,” Biden told PBS NewsHour. “And, so we’ll see. But, you know, I just — I think people have to just watch me.”
The White House dismisses concerns about Biden’s age
Republicans have already gone after his age.
Delivering the GOP response to Biden’s State of the Union address last week, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders noted she’s the nation’s youngest governor while Biden is “the oldest president in American history.”
Nikki Haley, who entered the Republican presidential race this week, is calling for “mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old.”
“When people send someone to Washington, they need to know they’re at the top of their game,” Haley told Fox News Thursday.
Haley is pushing for a new generation of leaders, an argument that works against both Biden and former President Donald Trump, 76.
Asked about Haley’s comments, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pointed to what Biden has accomplished as president, including defying expectations in the midterm elections.
“It is surprising that we get this question when you look at the record of this president,” she said. “He’s clearly capable in so many ways and on so many levels. And he’s going to continue to do that in the coming years.”
Still, half of registered voters think later middle age, between 51 and 65 years old, is the ideal age for a president, according to a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll taken at the end of last year.
An additional 25% picked earlier middle age, 35 to 50 years old. Less than 1 percent said their ideal president would be 80 or older.
Jean-Pierre said scheduling difficulties prevented Thursday’s physical from happening sooner.
‘happy birthday, mr. President’:Biden turns 80 amid questions about a reelection bid
Related:Republican Nikki Haley calls for ‘a new generation’ – preferably her – in her first 2024 campaign rally
more:Joe Biden boxes Republicans into a corner on Social Security, Medicare with an eye on 2024