President Joe Biden tried to downplay concerns about his health after debuting a lower, croaky voice during an economic address Friday.
"What I have is a 1 1/2-year-old grandson who likes to kiss his pop," Biden told reporters after a speech responding to last month's jobs report. "It's just a cold."
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Biden added he is tested daily for COVID-19 not only because he's president but also because he is a high-risk 79-year-old man.
His doctor later released a memo saying: "As is readily apparent, President Biden is experiencing some increased nasal congestion this week. This can be heard in his voice and he is feeling the colloquially well-known 'frog in ones throat.'"
Beau Biden, the toddler of first son Hunter Biden, was photographed at the White House last week when first lady Jill Biden received the presidential Christmas trees. He was also with the first family when they celebrated Thanksgiving in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Political onlookers online were quick to point out the changed tenor of Joe Biden's voice days after the omicron COVID variant, feared to be more transmissible, was discovered in South Africa. He defended his travel ban imposed on visitors from South Africa and seven neighboring countries. But he also said he did not expect to introduce vaccine mandates for domestic travel "at this point," contending the winter plan he announced this week was "sufficient."
During the address Friday, the president defended a lackluster Labor Department November jobs report. He argued that even with inflation, "the typical American family has more money in their pockets than they did last year."
"Families are anxious," he said. "I want you to know I hear you. It's not enough to know that we're making progress. You need to see it and feel it in your own lives, around the kitchen table, and in your checkbooks."
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The economy created 210,000 new jobs last month, far fewer than the half-million economists had predicted, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.