Biden is having his annual physical exam. The results will be closely watched as he seeks reelection

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — President Joe Biden is visiting Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Wednesday for his annual physical exam — and the results are sure to be closely watched as the 81−year−old president seeks reelection.

Biden is already the oldest president in U.S. history and would be 86 by the end of a second term, should he win one. After his last physical, performed in February 2023, doctors declared Biden “healthy, vigorous” and “fit” to handle his White House duties.

But voters are approaching this year’s election with misgivings about Biden’s age, having scrutinized his gaffes, his coughing, his slow walking and even a tumble off his bicycle.

“I’m going to get my physical,” Biden told reporters as he left the White House.

Former President Donald Trump, 77, is the favorite to lock up the Republican nomination later this month, which would bring him closer to a November rematch against Biden. Trump was 70 when he took office in 2017, which made him the oldest American president to be inaugurated, until Biden broke his record by being inaugurated at 78 in 2021.

A recent special counsel’s report investigating Biden’s possession of classified documents repeatedly derided Biden’s memory, calling it “hazy,” “fuzzy,” “faulty,” “poor” and having “significant limitations.” It also noted that Biden could not recall defining milestones in his own life such as when his son Beau died or when he served as vice president.

But addressing reporters the evening of the report’s release, Biden said "my memory is fine” and grew visibly angry as he denied forgetting when his son died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.

Biden’s last physical showed that the president had a lesion removed from his chest over the previous year, but the results then otherwise largely matched the findings after Biden’s previous exam in November 2021. That report said his occasional coughing was due to acid reflux, while his stiffened gait was the result of spinal arthritis, a previously broken foot and neuropathy in his feet.

Biden had a colonoscopy in 2021, in which a 3 millimeter “benign−appearing polyp” was identified and removed.

In 1988, Biden had surgery to repair two brain aneurysms, which are weak bulges in arteries, and one of them leaking. Biden has never had a recurrence, his doctor said, citing a test in 2014 that examined his arteries.

Many Americans, including Democrats, have expressed reservations about Biden seeking a second term during this fall’s election. Only 37% of Democrats say Biden should pursue reelection, down from 52% before the 2022 midterm elections, according to a poll from The Associated Press−NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Polls have shown similar reluctance about Trump too, however, and that hasn’t stopped either from closing in on their party’s nominations.

Biden won Michigan’s Democratic primary handily on Tuesday, but an “uncommitted” campaign organized by activists disillusioned with the president’s handling of the war in Gaza far surpassed the 10,000−vote margin by which Trump won Michigan in 2016. That was a goal set by organizers and it was seen as a potential source of embarrassment for Biden’s reelection campaign.

Darlene Superville, The Associated Press

Photo: AP