Doctor says Biden’s ‘vigorous’ as he readies for 2024 run

Feb 16, 2023, 6:52 AM | Updated: 5:08 pm
President Joe Biden departs from at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., ...

President Joe Biden departs from at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite testing positive twice last year for the coronavirus, President Joe Biden has no long-term symptoms and has been declared “healthy, vigorous” and “fit” to handle his White House responsibilities, according to a routine medical checkup performed Thursday.

The findings were contained in a memo by Biden’s doctor, summarizing the exams conducted during a three-hour stay at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

The conclusions reached by Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the president’s personal physician since 2009, are likely to be highly scrutinized as the oldest president in history makes plans for an expected reelection campaign.

O’Connor concluded in a five-page memo that Biden “remains a healthy, vigorous 80-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.” But the doctor did not speculate about where Biden’s health might be at age 86, when a second term might end.

The president had a lesion removed from his chest that is undergoing a traditional biopsy. But Thursday’s results largely matched the findings after the president’s last exam in November 2021, which said his coughing was due to acid reflux and his stiffened gait was the result of spinal arthritis, a previously broken foot and neuropathy in his feet.

The memo generally labeled Biden’s health as “stable” compared to his last exam, though it noted that his calves and hamstrings had possibly tightened.

Biden tested positive in July for COVID-19 and experienced “very mild symptoms,” according to the White House. He also had a rebound infection and ultimately tested negative on Aug. 6 of last year. The president continued to work even as he isolated himself in the White House.

“Well, everything really went well,” Biden told NBC News on Thursday about the exam ahead of the memo’s release.

Many people, including Democrats, have expressed reservations about Biden seeking a second term in 2024. Only 37% of Democrats say Biden should pursue reelection, down from 52% before last November’s elections, according to a recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Overall, 22% of U.S. adults said he ought to run again.

Follow-up interviews with people in the survey indicated that Biden’s age was a major concern. They took note of his coughing, a greater sense of fragility in his walking and moments when he misspoke.

Biden had a colonoscopy in 2021, in which a 3-millimeter “benign-appearing polyp” was identified and removed. He did not undergo a colonoscopy during Thursday’s checkup.

Asked in a recent PBS interview about his age and ability to be president, Biden responded with what has become his stock line: “Watch me. It’s all I can say.”

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Doctor says Biden’s ‘vigorous’ as he readies for 2024 run