POLITICS
28/09/2020 7:32 AM AEST | Updated 28/09/2020 7:39 AM AEST

Trump Says He Will Demand Biden Take A Drug Test Ahead Of Debate

President Trump’s latest accusatory jab at the former vice president's health comes despite ongoing public concern about Trump's own well-being.

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US President Donald Trump on Sunday again baselessly suggested that his presidential opponent, Joe Biden, is doing drugs and tweeted that he “will be strongly demanding” that the former vice president take a drug test “prior to, or after” their first debate against one another on Tuesday.

“His Debate performances have been record setting UNEVEN, to put it mildly. Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy???” he tweeted. He said that he would agree to take a drug test, too.

Trump didn’t specify which drug Biden should be tested for or to whom he is making his demand. But his allegation mirrored one he made in an interview with Fox News last month.

This appears to be Trump’s latest attempt to weaponise mental health and to sow public doubt about his opponent without any supporting evidence.

Biden has dismissed Trump’s accusations and called him “a fool,” adding that he looks forward to their debate. He declined to comment Sunday when asked about Trump’s latest accusation and test request.

Trump’s comments come despite public concerns about his own physical and mental fitness and speculation about recent drug use within his own family.

Trump does not smoke or drink alcohol, and his physician has reported that he is in good health. But his health has come under public scrutiny because of what appears to be an unhealthy lifestyle. He also made a mysterious visit to the hospital last fall.

Trump has a well-documented penchant for fast food and is classified as obese, leads a sedentary lifestyle and even reportedly said that the human body has a “finite” amount of energy resources that exercise depletes.

Trump made an unannounced visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last November that raised doubts about his mental and physical health. He insisted that the visit was for a routine physical.

OLIVIER DOULIERY via Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters outside the White House on Saturday.

Earlier this month, Trump’s physician released a statement at the president’s request that denied that Trump had been evaluated for a “stroke,” “ministroke” or any heart emergency after new speculation emerged about his health.

Over the summer — in response to accusations in Michael Wolff’s tell-all book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” that Trump was unfit for office — Trump argued that he was mentally fit by pointing to his passing score on a cognitive test. But the test was one used to assess dementia or other cognitive decline and not IQ or intelligence. After Trump boasted that he aced the test and that doctors lauded his performance as “amazing,” critics ridiculed him, pointing out that the test was meant to be easy.

Biden, a fellow septuagenarian, is roughly three years older than Trump, who is the oldest person to assume the presidency. A physical released by Biden’s doctor last week showed that, despite his age, Biden is in good health and nowhere near slowing down. Doctors credit his good health to Biden’s exercising at least five days a week and not smoking or drinking alcohol.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden gives a speech Sunday in Wilmington, Delaware.

With just weeks to go before the Nov. 3 election, questions have come up about whether Trump’s attempts to delegitimize Biden and cast him as unfit for office may actually hurt the president.

Trump has repeatedly argued that Biden is incompetent and will be unable to argue or respond in the upcoming debates. A Trump campaign ad shows a series of edited clips that appear to show Biden stumble with his words in interviews and at campaign events. “Geriatric mental health is no laughing matter,” the ad said.

But Biden delivered a live speech at the Democratic National Convention last month without issues, leading critics to falsely accuse him of having pretaped the speech. Those critics argued, despite evidence to the contrary, that Biden is incapable of reading anything from a teleprompter for more than 20 minutes without messing up.

“In trying to message that Biden may be unfit for office, the campaign also may have lowered expectations on his debate performance,” Brett O’Donnell, a Republican strategist who has coached candidates ahead of debates, told The New York Times. O’Donnell said the strategy may be an unintentional gift to the Biden campaign.