Latest News 18-06-2024 21:02 9 Views

Obama leading Biden off LA fundraiser’s stage just latest example of allies directing president

Political allies, family members, at least one foreign leader and even the Easter Bunny have all stepped in to assist President Biden offstage or direct him during public events, as shown by videos published by news outlets and circulating on social media. 

The self-admitted 'gaffe machine' is in the midst of controversy this week after video showed him standing on the stage of a ritzy campaign donor event in Los Angeles with former President Obama and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, before Obama guided Biden off the stage as he smiled to the crowd. 

As the trio stood onstage smiling toward the crowd, Obama was seen reaching over and taking Biden’s wrist before putting his hand on the current president’s back and walking toward the stage’s exit. The scene sparked a renewed wave of criticism online that Biden is 'confused' and 'senile' and also jokes that the scene was reminiscent of a senior care home ad.

The Biden campaign pulled in a whopping $30 million from the star-studded fundraiser, which included support from Hollywood stars such as George Clooney and Julia Roberts. 

'Former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden offer final waves to Peacock Theater crowd as Obama then grabs Biden’s hand to lead him offstage following 40-minute conversation with Jimmy Kimmel,' Chris Gardner, senior staff writer for The Hollywood Reporter, posted early Sunday morning, accompanied by footage of the scene.

The clip is just one of many in recent months showing an ally, aide or family member stepping in to seemingly direct or guide Biden off a stage or during an event.

The L.A. event comes on the heels of Biden’s visit to Italy, where he met with Pope Francis and attended the G-7 summit to discuss additional funding to Ukraine as the nation continues its yearslong war against Russia.

'They are cheap fakes. … They are done in bad faith.'

— White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

During the trip, scrutiny surrounding Biden’s age and cognitive state was put on the world stage after video circulated of the 46th president standing with Group of Seven world leaders outside. The video shows parachutists landing around Biden, ​​and leaders such as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Biden took a few steps away from the group, seemingly taking in the scene as a parachutist gathered himself after landing. Meloni then walked over to the president, touched his right arm and redirected him back to the group of world leaders.

The White House denied anything odd about the video, instead arguing that the video used 'an artificially narrow frame to hide from viewers that he just saw a skydiving demonstration' and that Biden was 'saying congratulations to one of the divers and giving a thumbs-up.'

The pair of high-profile incidents within the space of a week underscore growing concerns about the 81-year-old president’s cognitive state.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday addressed the recent videos of Biden 'freezing' at public events as 'disinformation' promoted by 'right-wing critics.'

'They are cheap fakes. … They are done in bad faith. And some of your news organizations have been very clear, have stressed that these right-wing … critics of the president have a credibility problem because the fact-checkers have repeatedly caught them pushing misinformation, disinformation,' she said.

Biden's mental fitness has become a focal point this election season, with former President Trump routinely slamming the president for his garbled language in public remarks and repeated instances of Biden appearing confused while trying to find an exit off of a stage after public events.

'It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him – by then a former president well into his eighties – of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness.'

— Special prosecutor Robert Hur, explaining his decision to not pursue charges against President Biden

Earlier this year, Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report investigating the president's handling of classified documents after his departure as vice president under the Obama administration further compounded concern over the president’s mental acuity. 

Hur announced in February that he would not recommend criminal charges against Biden for possessing classified materials after his vice presidency, calling Biden 'a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.'

'Based on our direct interactions with and observations of him, he is someone from whom many jurors will want to identify reasonable doubt. It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him – by then a former president well into his eighties – of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness,' Hur wrote in his report. 

The findings sparked widespread outrage that Biden was effectively deemed too cognitively impaired to be charged with a crime yet could still serve as president.

When asked about the series of videos showing people guiding and directing Biden during public events, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates told Fox News Digital in a statement that they depict 'routine moments for any president.'

'These have two things in common: 1, they’re cheapfakes presented by discredited rightwing groups who can’t contend with the President’s record and agenda; and 2, their depictions of routine moments for any president have often been fact-checked by mainstream, nonpartisan reporters,' he said Monday.

Biden’s history of being guided and directed offstage or during an event includes video footage from March showing the first lady striding up to Biden during the White House’s Women's History Month reception. 

Jill Biden places her hand on Biden’s back as the president is seen speaking with an attendee, before Jill Biden points to an area off camera and Biden begins walking behind two members of the military.

In January, social media users again criticized the president when Jill Biden took her husband’s hand as he wrapped up remarks on the anniversary of Jan. 6. Jill Biden was seen holding the president’s hand as they walked toward the stage’s exit, appearing to drop his hand when she made it behind a stage partition. 

In another attention-grabbing scene this month, video footage of the White House’s Juneteenth celebration last Monday showed Biden standing with his arms still as a crowd of people around him danced and clapped to music. Biden smiled and began moving around when Philonise Floyd — the brother of George Floyd – took notice and placed his arm around Biden. The two then shared a fist bump.

Jean-Pierre also addressed the Juneteenth video during Monday's press conference, saying that Biden standing relatively still while listening to music was 'not a health issue' and that others around the president were also standing still during the festivities.

'That is a weird thing to actually flag, when if you look … at the people who are around him, if you look at the expanded video of the people who are around him, they were not, there were some folks who were not dancing either. And that has been fact-checked. I mean, just because you're standing up listening to music and not dancing, that is not a health issue. That is just not a health issue,' she said. 

Last month, footage showed a member of the military directing Biden after wrapping up remarks at the White House, which was lambasted by X account RNC Research. 

In 2022, the Easter Bunny even stepped in to apparently direct Biden away from speaking to members of the media. A person dressed in an Easter Bunny costume was seen approaching the president as he answered a reporter’s questions on Afghanistan and Pakistan. The costumed person placed their hand on the president, before waving and directing him to walk away from the gaggle of reporters.

In 2022, a young girl was seen on camera leading Biden off a stage during a Christmas season Toys for Tots event with the United States Marine Corps Reserve in Arlington, Virginia.

'Which way do we go?' Biden asked a young girl as she took his hand and walked him in the right direction.

'When I was that age, I could hardly say my name in public,' Biden added. 'Actually, I used to stutter when I was a little boy, until I was in high school. It was the only thing everybody – anyway – you’re very impressive.'

Among the president’s instances of others apparently directing him during public events, Biden has also missed cues, including reading a teleprompter’s 'pause' instructions in April, abruptly walking off a stage in Arizona last year after spotting a baby in the crowd, asking the whereabouts of a deceased Indiana lawmaker during a press conference in 2022, and a handful of incidents where Biden told members of the media he would take questions from a predetermined list of media outlets.

'Now, I've been given a list of 10 people that I'm supposed to call on, and you're all supposed to ask me one question, but I'm sure you'll ask me more. So, let me start off with the list I've been given,' Biden, for example, told reporters during a 2022 press conference. 

Jean-Pierre last year also abruptly ended a press conference while Biden was still answering questions, with music soon filling the room as Biden thanked reporters. 

The Wall Street Journal published a bombshell report this month detailing interviews with roughly 45 lawmakers and administration officials on Biden's mental state, which caused alarm that the oldest sitting president in U.S. history is showing his age in meetings.

'The president moved so slowly around the Cabinet Room to greet the nearly two dozen congressional leaders that it took about 10 minutes for the meeting to begin, some people who attended recalled,' WSJ reported. 

The White House hit back that the story and anecdotes were examples of partisan politics working to deride the 'savvy and effective' president.

'Congressional Republicans, foreign leaders and nonpartisan national security experts have made clear in their own words that President Biden is a savvy and effective leader who has a deep record of legislative accomplishment,' Bates said at the time. 'Now, in 2024, House Republicans are making false claims as a political tactic that flatly contradict previous statements made by themselves and their colleagues.'

Just hours ahead of Obama leading Biden off the stage in Los Angeles, Jill Biden defended her husband’s age in public remarks.

​​'Joe and the other guy are essentially the same age, so let’s not be fooled,' she said during a campaign event on Saturday, referring to 78-year-old Trump, the New York Post reported. 'Let’s not be fooled. But what this election is about, it’s about the character of the person leading our country.'

'Joe Biden is a healthy, wise 81-year-old, ready and willing to work for you every day to make our future better,' Jill Biden added. 'Joe isn’t one of the most effective presidents of our lives in spite of his age but because of it.'


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