White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Sunday abruptly ended a news conference with President Joe Biden in Hanoi, Vietnam, at one point taking a microphone and announcing the event had concluded even as the president was still answering questions from reporters in the room.
As the president was responding to shouted questions from the press, Jean-Pierre took to the microphone to announce, “Thank you everybody – this ends the press conference.” Biden remained on stage briefly following her announcement, responding to one additional question, though his full answer was inaudible.
Biden had, at that point, taken the five questions from reporters in the room that he said he would, before announcing, “I tell you what, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to bed.” The White House announced at the start of the press conference that Biden planned to take questions from five reporters.
However, the president lingered on stage, responding to additional questions about what he said to Chinese Premier Li Qiang before he was interrupted by the press secretary.
Throughout the presser, Biden acknowledged the demands of the whirlwind trip, joking at one point, “These five-day trips around the world are no problem.”
Minutes before Jean-Pierre ended the press conference, Biden had delivered a lengthy answer that involved a rambling explanation of why he uses the phrase “lying dog-faced pony soldier” in an attempt to explain his feelings about politicians who deny the existence of climate change.
The moment comes days after a CNN poll showed about three-quarters of Americans say they are concerned Biden’s age might negatively affect his current level of physical and mental competence and his ability to serve another full term if reelected. Biden’s defenders have brushed off concerns about his age and the White House has frequently pointed to his energy levels on grueling international trips such as the current one as proof that his age is not an issue.
Such travel schedules led Jean-Pierre to tell CNN’s Jake Tapper last month that “no other president has been able to do” the job like Biden.
“People have come after the president about his age – they did it in 2019, they did it in 2020 leading into the general election, and they did it in 2022, and guess what? He beats them every time,” Jean-Pierre said, “because he has a finger on the pulse of what it is that the American people need, he talks about issues that really matter to the American people, and he is delivering.”