US president Joe Biden has appeared confused and "lost" on stage in a clip his political opponents have seized on to cast doubt over the leader's mental acuity.
After delivering a speech on Wednesday (local time) at the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference in New York, Mr Biden appeared unsure what to do.
The president wondered to the right of the stage before stopping and putting his hands out. He then lurched with his hands out before stopping again and standing still. As he appeared to interact with someone off stage, he looked unsure about what to do and whether or not to walk off.
Video of the moment was shared online by the highly partisan Republican National Committee, quickly racking up more than two million views as critics mocked the 79-year-old president.
"Joe Biden has no idea what’s going on. The guy can’t even get on and off the stage," political author Clay Travis wrote in Twitter.
"Joe Biden is completely lost on stage. Scary and sad," echoed Steve Guest, an advisor to Texas senator Ted Cruz.
The focus and mental stamina of Mr Biden was a major issue during his presidential campaign in 2020 and has not abated during his first two years in the White House.
In a 60 Minutes interview broadcast earlier this week, he was again grilled on his physical and mental fitness for the job.
"Some people ask whether you are fit for the job. And when you hear that, I wonder what you think," he was asked by 60 Minutes anchor Scott Pelley.
"Watch me. And ma— honest to God, that's all I think. Watch me. If you think I don't have the energy level or the mental acuity, then— then, you know, that's one thing. It's another thing, you just watch and— and, you know, keep my schedule," Mr Biden responded.
The 60 Minutes anchor pressed on about his mental stamina.
"How would you say your mental focus is?" he asked.
"Oh, it's focused. I'd say it's— I think it's— I— I haven't— look, I have trouble even mentioning, even saying to myself, my own head, the number of years. I no more think of myself as being as old as I am, than fly. I mean, it's just not— I haven't— observed anything in terms of— there's not things I don't do now that I did before, whether it's physical, or mental, or anything else," the president responded.
Joe Biden has no idea what’s going on. The guy can’t even get on and off the stage. Watch this: pic.twitter.com/eSQo0Yuiat
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) September 21, 2022
Biden in showdown with Putin
Just hours before the viral clip, Mr Biden delivered remarks to the United Nations condemning the latest actions by Russia's president Vladimir Putin who has ramped up the nation's war effort in Ukraine and threatened the west with the use of nuclear weapons in a video address.
"Again, just today, President Putin has made overt nuclear threats against Europe, in a reckless disregard for the responsibilities of the nonproliferation regime," Mr Biden said at the New York gathering.
"A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought," he said.
With Putin's latest actions seen as an ultimatum to NATO and the US, Mr Biden is staring down a game of military brinkmanship with his Russian counterpart – and is ratcheting up the rhetoric.
The US president said no one had threatened Russia, despite its claims to the contrary, and that only Russia had sought conflict. He used the UN setting to underscore his view that Moscow had violated the body's values.
"A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council invaded its neighbour, attempted to erase a sovereign state from the map. Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenets of the United Nations Charter," Mr Biden said.
"This war is about extinguishing Ukraine's right to exist as a state, plain and simple, and Ukraine's right to exist as a people. Wherever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe, that should ... make your blood run cold."
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