Biden jokes about his past falls in speech to auto union

President Joe Biden joked about his recent falls during a speech to auto workers in Illinois.

As there was a crash heard in the audience, Mr Biden shared a self-deprecating quip, saying “I want the press to know that wasn’t me,” seemingly in reference to the widespread reporting of his recent tumbles.

It was the first visit to the northern Illinois Stateline area by a sitting US president since Ronald Reagan visited his hometown Dixon to mark his 73rd birthday in February 1984.

Mr Biden has often responded to recent attacks on his age with humour, much like Mr Reagan did.

The former actor and California governor was at the time the oldest president in US history. In his successful re-election bid in 1984, the 73-year-old faced President Jimmy Carter’s former Vice President Walter Mondale, who was 56 at the time.

Mr Reagan famously overcame the age issue during one of their debates saying, “I will not make age an issue. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience,” eliciting laughter from both the audience and Mr Mondale.

Earlier this year, Mr Biden, who turns 81 this month, joked during a speech on gun violence: “A lot of you are tired. I get it, try being 110 and doing it again.”

As voters are increasingly concerned about Mr Biden’s age, he’s trying to make his decades of experience an asset.

This summer, 68 per cent of registered voters said in an NBC poll they were concerned about his mental and physical ability to be president.

Biden puts on a United Auto Workers shirt before speaking to autoworkers in Belvidere, Illinois (Getty Images)
Biden puts on a United Auto Workers shirt before speaking to autoworkers in Belvidere, Illinois (Getty Images)

“Joking about age allows him to simultaneously own the advantages of experience and defuse through humour any doubts about fitness,” a former official told the network.

Mr Biden joined members of the United Auto Workers union on Thursday, saying that he sees “the future here in Belvidere” just east of Rockford, adding that the Stellantis auto plant is the “beating heart of the community” as it reopened following the union striking a deal with the automakers.

“I see real heroes,” Mr Biden said as he looked at the crowd. “I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of America than today.”

Wearing a red UAW t-shirt, Mr Biden said: “American workers are ready to work harder than anyone else. But they just need to be given a shot. A fair shot and a fair wage.”

Calling the union members as “tough as they come,” a member of the audience said: “That shirt looks good on you.”

“I’ve worn this shirt a lot, man. You have no idea. I’ve been involved with the UAW longer than you’ve been alive,” Mr Biden said to laughter from the crowd, the Associated Press noted.

Earlier Mr Biden joked with the media at the White House by dramatically jumping out of the way of a microphone boom.