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HOUSTON, TX – President Joe Biden visited Texas this past Friday to oversee recovery efforts and promote COVID-19 vaccination after the state was hammered by a record-breaking winter storm that left millions without power, heat, or safe drinking water. Biden was joined during his visit by Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, among other officials.
During a speech, which Biden gave at a FEMA COVID-19 vaccination facility, right from his opening remarks it appeared that Biden was having difficulty at points maintaining his train of thought and was stumbling over his words, in addition to stating incorrect facts at several points.
“Good afternoon – or almost. Actually, it’s evening. And I want to thank you, Governor and Mrs. Abbott, for your hospitality and your friendship,” he said. “And Representative – Senator Cornyn, I think he had to go back; I think he’s getting on a plane. He told me last – he came in to see me last event. And Representatives Shirley Jackson Lee, Al Green, Sylvia Garcia, Lizzie Pannilli [sic] – excuse me, Pannill [Fletcher] – and – what am I doing here? I’m going to lose track here. And Mayor Turner, Judge Hidalgo. Thank you all for welcoming us.”
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The instance was transcribed on the White House website.
Later in his speech, while speaking about the importance of vaccinations, Biden reiterated his goal of getting 100 million COVID vaccine shots administered in his first 100 days in office, but had difficulty conveying some of the information.
“I was going to get 100 million COVID vaccine shots administered in my first 100 days. And because of the people behind me and others, America would be the – is going to be the first in the country – perhaps the first in the world – to get that done,” he said. “And I’m proud to say we’re halfway there: 50 million shots. Actually, I – I was telling the congressman earlier, I carry a little card with me. And it lists, every day, the number of – the actual number of vaccines that have been administered. As of today, five – as of last night, 503,587 – every single one matters – in just 37 days.”
Some have expressed concern that Biden’s cognitive health may be in decline, given his advanced age; at 78, he is the oldest man to ever assume the office of President. A Boston University article notes that there is a gradual increase in risk of people with dementia between ages 60 and 70, but then after age 70, the risk does go up more steeply; by age 80, approximately one-third of individuals have dementia, and by age 90, more than half have it. That’s not to say that the President in actually suffering from dementia, of course.
However, Biden is also a stutterer; he has been afflicted with this since his early 20’s, and has achieved a great deal of success in minimizing it over the course of his political career. However, it still surfaces on a regular basis – it became a factor for him during the early Democratic debates when he was attempting to win the party’s nomination for 2020 – and that is a factor that people may incorrectly interpret as another sign of mental decline, or worse, something to make fun of him for.
While no one can definitively state the status of President Biden’s cognitive health, incidents such as his recent Texas speech naturally raise concerns over his health given his age and, of course, the vital importance of his office.