President Biden not being treated for Parkinson's, White House says, amid questions over doctor's visit

Joe Biden is not being treated for Parkinson's disease, the White House has said, after reports that a specialist doctor had visited the US president several times in the past year.

Concerns around the president's health have risen since Mr Biden's poor showing in his debate with Donald Trump - with Democrats describing the US president's performance as an "unmitigated disaster", "a meltdown", and "a slow-motion car crash".

The performance also led to calls for Mr Biden to quit the race, but he said earlier on Monday he was "firmly committed" to his re-election campaign.

According to The New York Times, White House visitor logs show that Dr Kevin Cannard, a neurologist who specialises in movement disorders and recently published a paper on Parkinson's, visited the White House eight times from last summer through to the spring of this year.

NBC News, Sky News' US partner, confirmed that a Parkinson's expert from Walter Reed hospital visited the White House at least eight times in an eight-month period, according to public visitor logs.

One of those included a January meeting with Mr Biden's personal physician, Dr Kevin O'Connor. The nature of and reason for these meetings was unclear.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday Mr Biden was not being treated for Parkinson's.

In a feisty exchange with reporters, she declined to confirm Dr Cannard's visit, citing privacy reasons. But she said the president had seen a neurologist three times connected to his annual physical exams.

Ms Jean-Pierre told reporters the neurologists said they came up with "no findings" which would be consistent with any "central neurological disorders such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, or ascending lateral sclerosis".

"That is from February," she added.

The White House press secretary later told reporters: "Has the president been treated for Parkinson's? - No.

"Is he being treated for Parkinson's? - No he's not.

"Is he taking medication for Parkinson's? - No.

"Those are the things that I can give you full-blown answers on."

White House spokesman Andrew Bates added: "A wide variety of specialists from the Walter Reed system visit the White House complex to treat the thousands of military personnel who work on the grounds."

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'Time to end it'

Meanwhile, US Representative Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, used an interview with CNN on Monday to call on Mr Biden to drop out of the presidential race.

It comes after even some of Mr Biden's closest political allies, including the former speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, have raised questions about his health.

In his letter to Democrats in Congress on Monday, the US president said he was "firmly committed" to his re-election campaign and vowed to remain in the contest against Trump.

"I want you to know that despite all the speculation in the press and elsewhere, I am firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump," Mr Biden wrote.

The president ends his letter by saying: "The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it's time for it to end."

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Around the same time the letter was published, the US president phoned in to MSNBC's Morning Joe program and said he is confident the "average voter out there" still wants him on the Democrat ticket.

Mr Biden said: "I am not going anywhere."

He added that losing is "not an option" in the upcoming election and that he hasn't "lost to Trump".

Mr Biden also told MSNBC he is not going to "explain any more about what I should or shouldn't do", saying: "I am running."

The US president has said he is "frustrated" by calls from party officials for him to step aside.

"They're big names, but I don't care what those big names think," Mr Biden said.

He also said those in the party who are calling for him to quit should "challenge me at the convention".

The Democratic National Convention in August is when delegates will officially select the party's presidential and vice presidential nominees.