Five questions and answers about Joe Biden’s health, pressure and major doubts about his candidacy

Five questions and answers about Joe Biden’s health, pressure and major doubts about his candidacy
Five questions and answers about Joe Biden’s health, pressure and major doubts about his candidacy

President Joe Biden’s dismal performance in the June 27 presidential debate against Donald Trump has raised concerns about his age, health and ability to lead the U.S. government.

Administration officials have said his garbled and sometimes indecipherable responses in the debate with the Republican billionaire were the result of a cold, jet lag and poor preparation at Camp David.

But at 81, Biden has realized that his health is a crucial issue for many voters ahead of the November election. Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s physician, made his first comments since the debate after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre struggled to answer questions about the president’s health at a Monday briefing.

1- How often does the president go to the doctor?

Biden undergoes extensive annual medical exams, Jean-Pierre said. He also said most Americans don’t understand the extent of the medical care provided to the president, as many people are lucky to see their doctors once or twice a year. In contrast, the president’s medical unit is “just a few steps from the residence” at the White House.

“A couple of times a week” Biden does a “verbal check-in with his doctor while he works out,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that He had a check-up on Monday.

After the debate there was Confusion over whether Biden saw his doctor Regarding his cold, the White House initially said no medical examination was conducted, but later said there was a “brief verbal review” and it was determined no examination was necessary.

2- Did the president consult a neurologist?

“He has seen a neurologist three times,” Jean-Pierre said. “No more than that.”

The White House spokeswoman repeated the phrase “three times” 17 times during Monday’s press conference. She emphasized that the three consultations with a neurologist were tied to the president’s annual physicals. But Jean-Pierre declined to say where Biden had seen the neurologist, whether the consultations took place at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center or elsewhere. “I have nothing to say regarding the location,” he said.

Joe Biden’s hesitations and missteps in the June 27 debate sparked doubts and speculation. Photo: REUTERS

3-Were there signs of any neurological disease found in Biden’s medical examinations?

No, according to the president’s most recent medical examination report, issued in February. Jean-Pierre mentioned that document on Monday in response to reporters’ questions.

The note said that “An extremely detailed neurological examination was again reassuring” that there were no findings consistent with stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The letter added that no tremors or “motor weaknesses” were detected. Written by Biden’s physician, O’Connor, the letter added that Biden “demonstrates excellent fine motor skills.”

4- Why did a neurologist specializing in Parkinson’s disease visit the White House?

Visitor logs show that Dr. Kevin Cannard, a neurologist who has conducted research on Parkinson’s disease, visited the White House eight times between July 2023 and March.

Jean-Pierre declined to confirm the doctor’s name or say why he had come to the White House. He told reporters it was for security reasons, noting that the White House medical unit treats people other than the president.

The document released by the White House with the latest official medical report made to President Joe Biden. Photo: AP

“There are thousands of military personnel who come to this White House,” Jean-Pierre said. “Many of them receive their medical care from the White House medical unit and so we need to be extra careful.”

Hours later Monday, O’Connor released a letter with permission from Biden and Cannard and confirmed that Cannard had been the neurologist who examined the president in each of the three medical exams he has undergone since taking office.

But most of Cannard’s visits to the White House were as part of his role as a specialist with the White House Medical Unit, treating patients for a wide variety of neurological problems at the White House for 12 years, O’Connor said.

Cannard made similar visits during President Barack Obama’s administration, according to visitor logs, and during the Trump administration — which did not release visitor logs — according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Cannard did make a visit to see Biden’s personal physician in January at the White House Residence clinic, weeks before the president underwent his physical in February. O’Connor repeated that the exam found no signs of a neurological disorder.

“President Biden has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physical,” O’Connor said in her letter.

5- Could Biden make his entire medical history available to the public?

At Monday’s press conference, Jean-Pierre was asked whether Biden could choose to release his full medical records.

He said the president had “shared a comprehensive medical report that is quite detailed” and is in line with what was provided by former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush.

In 2018, Sen. John McCain allowed reporters to review more than 1,100 pages of medical records when he was running for president at age 71, which would have made him the oldest president ever elected at the time.

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