Biden just got a physical. But a cognitive test was not part of it President Biden, 81, is the oldest person ever to hold the office, and voters have expressed concern that he is too old for a second four-year term in the job.

Biden just got a physical. But a cognitive test was not part of the assessment

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President Biden got his annual physical exam today, and the results were mostly unchanged from last year's report, though the report did not address recent public concerns about the president's memory. There's a lot of scrutiny over this issue because of the president's age as he runs for a second term. NPR's Deepa Shivaram has been reviewing Biden's medical report. Hey, Deepa.


SHAPIRO: What are the top lines from Biden's physical this year?

SHIVARAM: Well, we heard from Biden himself earlier today before we even got the summary of his physical exam that the White House just released, and Biden said there was nothing different from his exam compared to last year. The president's doctor, Kevin O'Connor, wrote in his report that he had no new concerns about the president's health and that he continues to be fit for the office of the presidency.

Dr. O'Connor wrote that Biden had a new over-the-counter medication introduced to his rotation for his acid reflux and that the president had a formal sleep study this past year and has been using a CPAP machine. This is, like, an air-pressure mask that helps him breathe at night, and reporters actually picked up on this earlier this year. They noticed these imprints of the straps from the mask on the president's face one day. Biden also got X-rays on his spine, which has had some wear and tear and led to decreased range of motion for the president, so the doctor recommended more stretching in his physical therapy routine.

SHAPIRO: And then there's the questions about the president's memory. The special counsel report earlier this month said he struggles with that. Did the report say anything about it?

SHIVARAM: It didn't. The president did not have a cognitive test even though there have been a lot of heightened concerns, as you said, about his age and his ability to do this job for another term. And that's something that voters have been worried about for a while, but it became even more of an issue earlier this month when that special counsel report came out.

The White House and Biden himself have been really quick to push back on that narrative, right? But it remains a really big issue for voters. A recent NBC News poll showed that 76% of voters are concerned about the president's age, which means that White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was definitely prepared to answer questions about it in the briefing today, and she said that Dr. O'Connor and Biden's neurologist both said that Biden didn't need a cognitive test.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: The president passes, again, a cognitive test every day. If you look at what a clinical cognitive test is actually, what it actually does, it is a 15-minute appointment, and he is able to do the work every day. That is more rigorous than it would be for any 15-minute clinical appointment.

SHIVARAM: And she told us that there would be an explanation of why Biden didn't have a cognitive test in the report from O'Connor, but that doesn't appear to be included.

SHAPIRO: This doesn't seem to be an issue that's likely to go away before November. And so how is Biden going to deal with this, given that so many voters say they're concerned about his age?

SHIVARAM: Yeah. I mean, for starters, the president makes jokes about his age all the time. I was traveling with him through a fundraiser swing on the West Coast recently, and he was joking about how he personally knew Aristotle, which got a lot of laughs in the room. Even today, he said that doctors told him that he looked too young.

But recently, he's been treating this issue of age like how he treats any other campaign issue - by trying to draw a contrast with Trump. Earlier this week, he said Trump is about the same age as him, but his ideas and policies are stuck in the past. It is also worth mentioning, though, that Trump took a cognitive test when he was in the White House, though his administration never made the results of that test public. But that doesn't stop Trump from bragging about the results of his test and how well he says he did on it. And he keeps trying to make jabs at Biden, saying that Biden wouldn't be able to pass a cognitive test. So even though Biden's trying to shake off this narrative, Trump is likely to keep bringing it up.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Deepa Shivaram. Thank you.

SHIVARAM: Thank you.

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