Updated Apr 26, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden changes walking routine to Marine One

Two photos of Biden walking to Marine One.

Left: President Biden walks to Marine One solo on Jan. 5. Right: He walks to the helicopter with several aides on April 18. Photos: Chip Somodevilla, Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden has introduced a change to his White House departure and return routine. Instead of walking across the South Lawn to and from Marine One by himself, he's now often surrounded by aides.

Why it matters: With aides walking between Biden and journalists' camera position outside the White House, the visual effect is to draw less attention to the 81-year-old's halting and stiff gait.

Zoom in: Some Biden advisers have told Axios they're concerned that videos of Biden walking and shuffling alone — especially across the grass — have highlighted his age.

  • Weeks ago the president told aides that he'd prefer a less formal approach, a White House official told Axios. He suggested that they walk with him.

White House staffers and reporters alike noticed the sudden change in Biden's walk routine beginning in mid-April, after more than three years in which he'd typically walked solo.

  • Senior aides such as deputy chiefs of staff Bruce Reed and Annie Tomasini and close adviser Mike Donilon are among those who've walked with the president across the lawn to and from the helicopter.
  • Since the change, some advisers think the images of Biden's walks to and from the helicopter are better, and they expect him to continue to have aides join him.

By the numbers: In March, Biden's five walks to and from Marine One at the White House were by himself, or with family members.

  • Starting April 16, Biden was joined by staff or lawmakers nine out of 10 times he walked to and from Marine One.

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates played down the significance of aides partially obscuring cameras' view of Biden during the walks.

  • "He's fully visible except for a few seconds," Bates said. "Impeach."

The big picture: Biden's team has focused on changing voters' perceptions about his age in recent months.

The White House also has taken steps to prevent the president from tripping, as he did last summer on a stage at the Air Force Academy.

  • Biden increasingly has worn shoes with extra support, including a pair of black Hoka sneakers.
  • His doctor has disclosed that the president suffers from "spinal arthritis" and "mild sensory peripheral neuropathy of the feet" which has contributed to his stiff gait while walking.
  • The doctor declared Biden "fit for duty" and released far more information about his health than Donald Trump's team has revealed about the 77-year-old ex-president.

Between the lines: Biden resisted taking steps to account for his age early in his presidency, but has shifted gears recently.

  • Besides the different footwear, he now enters Air Force One on a lower level, taking shorter stairs than the ones used on his early trips to climb to the plane's cabin.
  • Biden also continues to do physical therapy and stretching exercises most days.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comment from the White House.

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