Throughout the 2016 Presidential race, we’ve all seen things we never thought we’d see in American politics, and now we can add a Presidential candidate being suspected of using cocaine because of his behavior during a debate to that list. During Monday’s debate, former Vermont Governor, one time Presidential candidate, and current Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean posed a question via Twitter about the possibility of Donald Trump being a cocaine user because of all the sniffing he was doing throughout the night.
The Internet all but exploded, as documented by my colleague Sahash Khanal. Then on Tuesday, Dean stood by his tweet and proceeded to double down on his controversial tweet. Of course, doubling down on a controversial statement is straight out of Trump’s playbook, giving the situation at least a tinge of irony.
Despite Trump’s insistence that he wasn’t sniffing, going so far as to blame poor microphones in the debate hall, the video speaks for itself.
As documented by The Hollywood Reporter, among other sources, Dean appeared on MSNBC with Kate Snow on Tuesday to discuss his now infamous tweet.
“You can’t make a diagnosis over the television. I would never do that,” Dean said. “(Sniffing) is actually a signature of people who use cocaine. I’m not suggesting that Trump does.”
When Snow insisted that Dean was calling Trump a cocaine user, the former Governor of Vermont said that he didn’t mean to imply that Trump was a cocaine user, only that such a scenario should be considered.
“He sniffs during the presentation, which is something that (cocaine) users do. He also has grandiosity, which is something that accompanies that problem. He has delusions. I’m not talking about being crazy. For example, when he told everybody he was very smart not to pay taxes, and then denied he said it after he said it in front of 100 million people. It’s not that he’s delusory about it. It’s that he thinks somehow he’s not going to get caught. That is delusional. He has trouble with pressured speech. He interrupted, as you pointed out, Hillary Clinton 29 times. He couldn’t keep himself together. So look, do I think at 70 years old he has a cocaine habit? Probably not, but it’s something that I think would be interesting to ask him to see if he ever had a problem with that.”
Of course, as Yahoo reminds us, Howard Dean and his wife are both physicians who ran a family medical practice together for 10 years. This gives Dean some level of credibility when it comes to noticing signs of drug use, even if he made sure to mention multiple times during his interview with Snow that he would never make a diagnosis based on something he saw on television.
Nevertheless, Dean continued to tell Snow with complete sincerity that he found Trump’s behavior during the debate suspicious.
“I just struck by the sniffing and then by his behavior, which all sort of came together, these four symptoms. Do I think he has a cocaine habit? I think it’s unlikely that you could mount a Presidential campaign at 70 years old with a cocaine habit. But it was pretty striking.”
When given the chance, Dean said he would not apologize for the tweet, nor would he be deleting it. Dean says he merely brought it up as a possible reason for why Trump is so “unstable,” as he put it.
“I raised the question last night,” Dean told Snow. “I don’t think this is a ridiculous idea. Something funny was going on with Trump last night. Do I think it’s cocaine? Probably not.”
For Trump, Dean’s suggestion may feel like a taste of his own medicine from the physician turned politician. Trump’s campaign has dedicated a great deal of energy in recent weeks to questioning the health of Hillary Clinton, who recently had a bout with pneumonia. Dean is now doing something similar to Trump, although perhaps in a more subtle way.
Dean also took some time during his interview with Snow to point out that Clinton has been far more transparent with her health record than Trump has been with his medical history. In that sense, Dean’s tweet on Monday night does make it seem like he’s turning the tables on Trump. Whether he did that on purpose with his controversial tweet is unclear. But Dean certainly has people talking about Trump possibly being a cocaine user, and the DNC chair is not backing down from what he said.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]