Biden had ‘verbal check-in’ with doctor after White House said he got no checkup for debate cold

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The White House on Friday said President Biden had a “verbal check-in” with his doctor about the cold he had during the debate, after telling reporters earlier in the week that he did not get a medical exam — and had not had once since his yearly physical in February.

Early into the president’s debate performance, during which he spoke in a soft and raspy voice and often struggled to complete sentences, the White House at the time said that Biden had a cold.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had been asked earlier this week if Biden had seen his doctor about the cold, which was blamed on foreign travel, but she said no.

But on Friday, Jean-Pierre changed her response, telling reporters Biden had a “verbal check-in” when asked about reports that surfaced indicating Biden told a group of governors he had a check-up.

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

On Wednesday, Jean-Pierre responded “no” when asked if Biden had any kind of medical exam. She also said “no” when asked if the president had any medical exams since his last annual physical in February.

Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s lead doctor, released the results of the president’s annual physical in February and said the president is “fit for duty.”

Jean-Pierre also stressed that Biden has medical professionals around him due to his role as president.

“The president has doctors, a medical unit around him 24/7 and that’s not because of this president, that’s all presidents,” she said.

Biden on Tuesday had blamed recent foreign travel, on top of his cold, for his poor debate performance. He said that he “almost fell asleep on stage” while in Europe and that he returned from “travel around the world a couple of times… shortly before the debate.”

The president returned from a trip to Italy for the Group of Seven summit on June 14 and six days later, he went to Camp David for debate prep. He stayed there for a whole week before traveling to Atlanta on June 27.

Biden reportedly told Democratic governors in a meeting on Wednesday that he needs more sleep and to not hold events after 8 p.m. When pressed on this comments, Jean-Pierre said the president is working on striking a balance with his schedule.

“The president works around the clock, it’s a 24/7 job. 365 days out of a year,” she said. “He also recognizes the importance of striking a balance and taking care of himself, just like we all have to. We are all humans, the president is human as well. He shared that view with governors and took ownership of trying to do too much in the lead up to the debate, that was the conversation.”

Biden has faced an overwhelming amount of criticism since his poor debate performance, losing the support of donors and other Democrats amid calls to step aside from the 2024 race. Biden insists he is not dropping out, but several reports have suggested he and some of his close advisors are putting together a contingency plan if she chooses to exit the race.

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