President-elect Joe Biden has admitted to having a “bit of a cold” after social media users highlighted his raspy voice, coughing fits, and persistent throat clearing during a short victory speech on Monday following the Electoral College vote.
“Thank you, I have a little bit of a cold, I’m sorry, but look, you know, you did it, you did it, not a joke,” Biden said during a live stream during which he expressed gratitude to supporters for not letting his campaign, and by extension the country, down, according to Fox News.
Biden’s comments came after tens of thousands of internet users jumped on his coughing and “unconnected and confused” appearance as he walked off the stage following a 15-minute address to the nation Monday night.
Many conservative commentators, some of whom are yet to recognise Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump in the 3 November vote, didn't hold back.
“He looks absolutely terrible. He looks tired and sick, he’s repeatedly coughing and having to clear his throat,” tweeted Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra.
Watching Biden's speech from tonight. He looks absolutely terrible. He looks tired and sick, he's repeatedly coughing and having to clear his throat. He was also condescending, arrogant, and divisive toward conservatives.— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) December 15, 2020
“Why is Biden continually coughing during the speech? Coronavirus? Where’s the mask?” another user asked. “Biden was coughing the entire time. Looks like he’s dying, such a weak ‘leader’. Joe will never be my president,” one user wrote.
“Joe Biden having coughing fits trying to speak now. I’m sure Kamala is waiting to throw him out,” someone else suggested, referring to the theory spread by some conservatives including Trump that Biden’s vice-president may dethrone him when he's declared unfit to serve.
“Biden please stop coughing…we have 5 weeks,” one concerned user wrote, referring to the amount of time left before the 20 January inauguration when the president-elect will formally step into office.
“Non-stop coughing? Seemed very stiff when moving from podium towards his wife. Unsteady on his feet. Just a nursing assessment,” a "nursing educator" suggested.
Others dismissed the concerns, however, with one user arguing that “all these morons didn’t flinch” over Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s “coughing, spitting, wiping it back on his face and farting” during his recent press conferences on alleged election fraud.
“Joe Biden is coughing a lot. OAN, Fox and Newsmax now have programming for the next week,” someone sarcastically wrote.
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are reported to be tested for coronavirus routinely, with the president-elect’s last test said to have taken on Friday, according to White House pool reports cited by Fox. That test was negative.
The president-elect’s physical health and mental fitness has been subject to debate and speculation ever since he announced his intentions to run for the top job in 2019, with fellow Democratic candidate Julian Castro receiving heavy flak for attacking Biden for allegedly forgetting his own position on health care during a September 2019 debate. The topic quickly became a no-go area for the Democrats after that, but President Trump made similar accusations, insinuating that there was something wrong with Biden and going so far as to suggest that he may have used drugs to aid his debate performances. At the same time, Trump, 74, bragged “acing” a “very hard” cognitive test this summer which included checking his ability to name exotic animals and repeat sentences aloud.
On Tuesday, Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top coronavirus advisor, called for Biden to receive the coronavirus vaccine as soon as humanly possible to ensure that the president-elect is “fully protected as he enters into the presidency in January.” Trump should also be vaccinated urgently, Fauci said.