The September 26 presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump was seen by an estimated 80 million people. One of those people watching was former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who became a focal point for controversy after their debate for his posting on social media.
During the course of the debate, Trump could be frequently heard making sniffling noises. Speculation both during and after the debate wondered whether Trump was suffering from seasonal allergies, fighting off a cold or was battling a much more serious illness.
While Trump himself denied all three considerations, Dean took the speculation much farther by wondering on Twitter whether or not Trump had ingested cocaine prior to the debate. Dean, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, does have a medical degree, which means that he’s familiar with one of the traits of a cocaine user: frequent sniffling.
The following day, Dean was asked by a variety of media outlets about his controversial remarks that brought severe criticism from a number of different Republicans. In each of the interviews, he refused to apologize for his tweet and went on to explain the basis of his theory.
Dean then pointed out the parallels between Trump’s actions during the debate and those of a cocaine user. He first cited Trump’s frequent boasting about his accomplishments and wealth, behavior which has resulted in many critics labelling Trump as a narcissist.
Another behavioral issue that Dean noted dealt with what he believed to be delusional thinking on the part of Trump. Specifically, that the billionaire businessman had bragged about not paying taxes before later denying that he had made such a comment. Fact-checking services later indicated that the majority of false statements during the debate were uttered by Trump.
The final point that Dean made to continue such speculation was directed at the fact that Trump frequently interrupted Clinton while the former Secretary of State was speaking. Nervous tics like that are frequent signs of cocaine use, though Dean acknowledged that the 70-year-old Trump was likely not using the drug.
Still, Trump critics point out that he hasn’t released his full medical records to see if he’s ever been treated for such a problem. The businessman reportedly drinks no alcohol, a trait that’s primarily due to the fact that his older brother, Fred, Jr., suffered from alcoholism before his death in 1981 at the age of 43.
Earlier this month, Trump appeared on a medical television show to present the apparent results of his latest physical. While deemed overweight at 236 pounds, the report showed no apparent health concerns for the candidate.
Dean’s critics believe that this was an attempt at getting revenge for the numerous rumors floating around about Clinton’s health. She has also declined to release her full medical records, which has allowed speculation to flourish concerning a 2012 concussion she had suffered. Footage of Clinton jokingly bobbing her head after a microphone got too close allowed her critics to again speculate that she was suffering from seizures or the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
When footage of Clinton nearly collapsing on September 11 was broadcast, those comments about her health increased even more. Later that day, her campaign noted that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier. After resting for the next three days, Clinton resumed her campaigning.
Dean’s own presidential ambitions were dashed in 2004 during the Democratic primaries. His frenzied speech to his followers following one defeat was largely seen as the death knell to that campaign.