On CNBC Monday morning, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump weighed in on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s bout with pneumonia, saying that he takes “no satisfaction” in her illness, before continuing to speculate about her health.
The host, Joe Kernen, asked Trump if he would say he was “correct in [his] assessment” that Hillary Clinton “didn’t have the stamina either mentally or physically to be president,” which is a line that Trump and his campaign have been pushing throughout the campaign and doubling down on in recent weeks.
“Well, I don’t take satisfaction, Joe, and frankly, you know, I hope she gets well and I hope she gets well soon, but, you know, it was quite sad to be honest with you, said Trump. “I hope she gets well soon. No satisfaction, believe me, whatsoever.”
However, Trump’s low-key brag that he was “correct” in diagnosing Clinton’s illness is disingenuous, given that what he’s actually been saying for months is that she lacks “strength and stamina” to be president. Clinton, according to her doctor, was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday, which is assuredly an illness but not the kind of long-term, debilitating disease that Trump’s campaign has been fueling speculation about, pivoting off a persistent right-wing conspiracy theory alleging that she is actually deathly ill.
Trump has also been alleging that Clinton lacks the mental stamina to be the president, while his surrogates have more bizarrely been saying that Clinton has brain damage — neither of which are supported by Clinton’s recent disclosure.
Trump, however, has a history of bragging about being right about a moment of ill fortune for others. After a terrorist attack hit Brussels last year, Trump tweeted that he has “proven to be far more correct about terrorism than anybody- and it’s not even close.” After Nykeae Aldridge, the cousin of basketball star Dwyane Wade, was shot and killed in Chicago, Trump similarly bragged on Twitter “just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!”
Despite his professed wish that Clinton get well, Trump also managed to continue speculating that there’s something hidden happening besides the disclosure of pneumonia, fueling continued theorizing about his opponents health.
“What was interesting, because they say pneumonia on Friday but she was coughing badly a week ago or even before that if you remember, and this was not the first time. It’s interesting to see what is going on,” he said.
Trump then went on to boast that, while the campaign schedule is doubtless grueling for both candidates, it had been “documented” that his schedule was more grueling than Clinton’s, and drawing a parallel, that he found it “invigorating.”
“I will say this, with the scheduling, if you look at my scheduling and compared to anybody else’s scheduling, there’s not a contest. I have found the whole challenge to be very invigorating.”
Trump, who is a year older than Clinton and about whose health we know far less, frequently brags about his own stamina and contrasts it unfavorably with Clinton’s, drawing obliquely on gendered stereotypes about women’s supposed frailty. Yet while Trump continues to push the narrative that Clinton’s recent bout with overheating and pneumonia is a sign of an inherent frailty, an opposing narrative is that Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia and told to rest, and went to the 9/11 memorial anyway.