Former governor Howard Dean at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia
As Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sniffled away Monday night during the first debate of the general election, former Vermont governor Howard Dean posited a theory as to what was causing all the nasal activity.
"Notice Trump sniffing all the time," he wrote on Twitter. "Coke user?"
Rather than apologize for the off-color tweet the next day, the former practicing physician doubled down on it Tuesday afternoon in an appearance on MSNBC.
"Well, you can't make a diagnosis over the television," he said. "I would never do that. But he has some interesting — that is actually a signature of people who use cocaine. I'm not suggesting that Trump does, but—"
"Well you are suggesting it, actually, in a tweet," MSNBC host Kate Snow interjected.
"No, I'm suggesting we think about it," Dean said. Then he rattled off a list of symptoms he said Trump shared with cocaine users, ranging from "grandiosity" to "delusions" to "trouble with pressured speech."
"Do I think at 70 years old he has a cocaine habit?" the ex-gov continued. "Probably not. But, you know, it's something that I think would be interesting to ask him and see if he ever had a problem with that."
For several more excruciating minutes, Dean claimed he wasn't accusing Trump of using drugs while repeating the suggestion that he might be — employing similar rhetorical tactics as when Trump and his surrogates accused Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of hiding a grave illness and President Barack Obama of being foreign born.
"I don't think this was a ridiculous idea," Dean said. "Something funny was going on with Trump last night. Do I think it was cocaine? Probably not. But, again, the sniffing, the grandiosity, the delusions, the pressured speech. You know, this guy has already proven himself unstable. The question is: Why is he unstable?"