President Biden’s wince-inducing series of stumbles while boarding Air Force One on Friday calls to mind Gerald Ford’s 1975 fall on
President Biden’s wince-inducing series of stumbles while boarding Air Force One on Friday calls to mind Gerald Ford’s 1975 fall on the same stairs — a minor tumble that forever tarred him as a clumsy oaf.
Chevy Chase pilloried Ford in a series of ruthless and hilarious “Saturday Night Live” skits — even though the object of his ridicule was just 62 years old, and an ex-University of Michigan football star who avidly skied and golfed.
But Ford’s caught-on-camera stumble down the rain-slicked steps of Air Force One in Austria — plus a Biden-esque trip while climbing up the same set of stairs in Michigan soon afterward — was all Chase needed to crown Ford the Klutz-in-Chief.
As a bumbling Ford, Chase’s ham-handed handling of the Resolute Desk telephone and his lurching pratfalls continued week after week — to the point where the president decided he needed to clap back.
At a Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner later in 1975, Ford was climbing to the podium to speak when he sneakily yanked the edge of the tablecloth where Chase was sitting — sending tableware flying the comedian’s way.
Ford made sure to look back over his shoulder in mock surprise.
“I’m Gerald Ford, and you’re not,” he deadpanned to Chase after inviting the comedian to perform at a White House dinner in March 1976, stealing the show as the audience burst into applause and laughter.
Other presidents — and would-be presidents — have survived their own trips and falls relatively unscathed.
In 2011, Hillary Clinton, then President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, fell as she boarded a plane leaving Yemen.
“You know, those things happen,” she shrugged later.
Then-presidential candidate Bob Dole fell off a stage while campaigning in 1996. President George H.W. Bush fell while bowling in Milwaukee during the 1992 campaign. And his son, President George W. Bush, famously fell off a Segway in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 2003.