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Howard Dean is standing by his controversial Donald Trump tweet from Monday night’s debate, saying he doesn’t regret it and won’t apologize for it.
“Notice Trump sniffing all the time. Coke user?” the physician turned politician asked Monday on Twitter about the GOP nominee during the first presidential debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton. Trump’s constant sniffing became an instant topic of conversation on social media, sparking memes and the hashtag #TrumpSniffle. One YouTube user even created a mashup of all of his sniffles during the 90-minute showdown.
On Tuesday, the former presidential candidate and governor of Vermont appeared via satellite with MSNBC‘s Kate Snow to discuss his accusation. While he admitted that he doesn’t believe Trump has a cocaine “habit,” Dean said his raising of the question is valid.
“I don’t make diagnosis on the television, it’s medically improper,” he told Snow. “But I don’t think this was a ridiculous idea. Something funny was going on with Trump last night.”
Dean went on to list four symptoms of abusers of the drug that he witnessed in Trump during the debate: sniffling, grandiosity, delusions and pressured speech.
After months of targeting rival Clinton’s health issues and pre-debate speculation over whether or not the Democratic nominee would break into a coughing fit, viewers were quick to question Trump’s health when he was heard sniffling moments into the faceoff. The debate, which took place at Hofstra University and was hosted by NBC’s Lester Holt, was viewed by at least 80 million people, according to early ratings numbers.
It was Dean, however, who made a charge linking Trump’s behavior to the use of cocaine. His post quickly went viral and, as of Tuesday morning, had 26,000 shares and nearly 40,000 likes.
Notice Trump sniffing all the time. Coke user?
— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) September 27, 2016
Speaking to Snow on Tuesday, Dean said, “I’m suggesting we think about.” Adding, “Here’s the interesting constellation: he sniffs during the presentation, which is something that users do. He also has grandiosity, which is something that accompanies that problem. He has delusions, I’m not talking about being crazy, but for example when he told everybody he was very smart not to pay taxes and then denied that he said after he said it it in front of 100 million people … He thinks somehow he’s not going to get caught, that is delusional.”
He continued to list examples before summing up his thoughts.
“Do I think at 70 years old he has a cocaine habit? Probably not,” he said. “But it’s something that I think would be interesting to ask him, to see if he ever had a problem with that.”
Two of the late-night hosts doubled down on Dean’s question when they went live after the debate on Monday. On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert said Trump “sounded like he was fighting off a cold …of cocaine” and that “he sounded like the coked-up best man in the bathroom at a wedding.”
On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah discussed the audible sniffle, saying, “I don’t want to start any rumors, but there’s a reason I think Trump didn’t do well. I’m not sure and I’m not trying to start rumors, but Trump was sniffing a lot at the debate. And someone needs to look into that.” He then suggested, Trump was just “sniffing all of the bullshit he was saying.”
On Wednesday morning’s Fox & Friends, Trump denied he was sniffling during the debate and reiterated his claim from the night prior that his microphone “didn’t work.”
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, the Trump campaign responded to Dean’s comments on Thursday afternoon. “Governor Dean’s comment was beyond the pale and has no place in our important political discussion,” read the statement. “On a night where millions of Americans were able to compare and contrast the policies of both candidates, Governor Dean went straight to the gutter and was nothing more than a sad distraction in a desperate attempt to stay relevant.”
Several others in Hollywood and in the media jumped on the cocaine question throughout the night. See some of the posts from social media below.
Woah– Howard Dean’s frmr grp @DFAaction doublesdown on the Dem’s eyebrow raising tweet from last night. Grp spox: pic.twitter.com/uZnOgcIxtY
— MaryAlice Parks (@maryaliceparks) September 27, 2016
Trump either has a coke problem or a mild allergy to women who don’t flinch when he interrupts them #LateShowLive pic.twitter.com/cyOFmyrMbw
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) September 27, 2016
Colbert is live: “Trump sounded like he was trying to get over a cold using cocaine.”
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) September 27, 2016
I swear if I was just listening to the audio of this I’d think he was constantly snorting cocaine.
— Adam Scott (@mradamscott) September 27, 2016
A lot of people are saying Trump is on coke, which is ridiculous. People on cocaine love to talk about their specific plans for the future.
— Josh Gondelman (@joshgondelman) September 27, 2016
Trump is dehydrated and sniffling. Cocaine… or pneumonia?
— Amy Berg (@bergopolis) September 27, 2016
If you think Trump is “too fat” to be on cocaine you have never worked in the comedy or TV biz.
— Jen Kirkman (@JenKirkman) September 27, 2016
So Trump was on Cocaine, right? I mean many people are saying it.
— Gary Whitta (@garywhitta) September 27, 2016
Sept. 27, 12:55 p.m. PT: Updated with Dean’s MSNBC interview.
2:50 p.m.: Updated with Trump campaign statement.
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