July 15, 2024

President Joe Biden was examined by his physician in the days following last week’s CNN presidential debate, the White House tells CNN — despite the White House press secretary having said on Wednesday that the president has had no medical exams since his February physical.

“Several days later, the president was seen to check on his cold and was recovering well,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said.

On Wednesday, CNN had asked Karine Jean-Pierre in the White House press briefing whether the president had received “any medical exams” since his February physical, and the press secretary had responded: “We were able to talk to his doctor about that and that is a no”.

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A White House official adds when Biden was seen by his doctor after the debate, it was a “brief check”, not a “physical”.

CNN on Wednesday did not ask Jean-Pierre whether Biden had had another physical since February, but rather, any medical examination.

Politico first reported that Biden told more than 20 Democratic governors in a private meeting on Wednesday night that he underwent a medical checkup after last week’s debate and is fine.

The White House’s explanation on Thursday that Jean-Pierre said Biden had not had any medical exams since February because she was drawing a distinction between the president being checked out by his doctor and receiving a formal “physical” does not appear to explain a different exchange from the same briefing on Wednesday.

Jean-Pierre was asked by a reporter to clarify whether the president had been checked out by his doctor around the debate given that he had a cold.

“He was on the way to the debate, the doctor was with him, he had a cold, he’s 81. Does he not get checked out by the doctor?” the reporter asked.

“He did not get checked out by the doctor. It’s a cold, guys. It’s a cold.” she said.

“I know that it affects everybody differently. We’ve all had colds, and so no, he was not checked out by the doctor.”

In a briefing with reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday, Jean-Pierre cast Biden’s check-in as “a conversation” with his doctor, Kevin O’Connor.

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“So he did have a short verbal check-in in the recent days about his cold. It wasn’t a medical exam or physical, just want to be super, super clear about that. It was a conversation and his doctor didn’t think an examination was necessary,” Jean-Pierre said.

Questions about Biden’s fitness for office and ability to seek a second term have swirled since his stunningly halting debate performance at last week’s CNN presidential debate.

CNN reported on Thursday that Biden privately acknowledged to an ally earlier this week that the next stretch of days is critical as to whether he can save his re-election bid.

The White House and campaign have insisted the president is not considering ending his campaign.

Asked about concerns about Biden’s age, top advisers have repeatedly and emphatically cited his aggressive schedules during international travel as examples of his vitality and capacity to do the job at 81.

The president’s new explanation this week that he performed badly at the debate this week because of the gruelling foreign travel before the debate – despite having had nearly two weeks back in the States before facing off against Donald Trump – has undercut that argument.

Jean-Pierre did not mention travel fatigue and jet lag as factors for Biden’s poor debate performance in Tuesday’s White House briefing.

On Wednesday, pressed by CNN on why she had failed to mention those issues, she blamed her focus on Biden’s cold.

“I was so focused on the call – on the cold – and that’s what I kind of leaned into and talked about, but yes, his schedule did have something to do with it. It was the schedule and the cold. And I did – I was aware of that yesterday,” she said.

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