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Trump says presidential candidates should undergo tests to make sure they are mentally fit for the job

By Sarah May
|
February 22, 2023

There has been much talk in recent days about the notion of requiring older political candidates to submit to mental competency exams, with recently announced presidential candidate Nikki Haley advocating for such a mandate, and it now appears that former President Donald Trump agrees, as the Daily Mail reports.

Trump made his opinion known in a post on his Truth Social platform Tuesday, also hinting that a test of physical stamina might also be incorporated into any such protocol.

Haley raises issue

The recent discussion regarding the use of mental competency tests for aging politicians came to the forefront earlier this month when Haley suggested that such screenings should be conducted on candidates aged 75 and older, as The Hill noted.

As part of her campaign kickoff, Haley, 51, touted the need for a new generation of GOP leaders, and that was when she raised the notion of mental acuity exams for those seeking the highest office in the land.

“In the America I see, the permanent politician will finally retire,” Haley began.

“We'll have term limits for Congress and mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old,” a standard that would apply to both President Joe Biden and Trump in the 2024 cycle, were such a rule currently in place.

Trump concurs

In apparent agreement with Haley's premises, Trump voiced his opinion online, saying, “ANYBODY running for the Office of President of the United States should agree to take a full & complete Mental Competency Test simultaneously (or before!) with the announcement that he or she is running, & likewise, but to a somewhat lesser extent, agree to a test which would prove that you are physically capable of doing the job.”

“Being an outstanding President requires great mental acuity & physical stamina. If you don't have these qualities or traits, it is likely you won't succeed,” Trump added.

Trump has famously boasted of his own performance on a cognitive test administered during his time in the Oval Office, saying in 2021, as the New York Post noted at the time, “[Dr. Ronny Jackson] did a test. Did I ace it? I aced it. And I'd like to see Biden ace it. He won't ace it.”

“He'll get the first two. There are 35 questions and the first two or three are pretty easy. They are the animals. This is a lion, a giraffe. When he gets to around 20, he's gonna have a little hard time. I think he's gonna have a hard time with the first few, actually,” Trump said, and although he publicly challenged Biden to submit to such a test, he never did – at least not to the public's knowledge.

Biden's status questioned

The topic of cognitive exams for elderly politicians has assumed particular relevance in recent years given the current commander in chief's advanced age, gaffe-prone behavior, and frequent bouts of visible confusion, with two prominent physicians-turned-lawmakers urging testing and transparency regarding his true mental status.

As the Washington Examiner recently reported, in advance of the president’s recent physical examination, Rep. Scott DesJarlais (TN-04), himself a former physician, said that the president needed to undergo a cognitive assessment as part of the annual checkup.

“The American people want to know that their commander in chief is fully capable of performing at the highest level to protect the health and safety and security of the nation,” DesJarlais explained.

Rep. Ronny Jackson (TX-13), who has served as White House physician and administered Trump's exam during his presidency, has been a vocal proponent of the need for Biden to submit to such testing, saying of the current president, “there's really no question in most people's minds that there's something going on with him, that he's not cognitively the same as he used to be,” but Jackson’s concerns have thus far gone unanswered.

Sins of omission

Biden underwent the aforementioned physical exam last week, after which he was declared by White House doctor Kevin O'Connor to be “healthy,” “vigorous,” and fit for duty, as Fox News noted, though any mention of the president's mental status or cognitive test outcomes was conspicuously absent from his report.

Fox News contributor Dr. Janette Nesheiwat suggested that the country deserved to know much more about Biden's condition than was revealed, including how he may have performed on what is commonly referred to as a “mini mental status exam.”

Dr. Marc Siegel, another Fox News contributor, sounded the alarm about the absence of MRI results in the report on Biden's health, something he believes is necessary to assess the reasons behind the president's “stiff gait,” which has been repeatedly noted by O'Connor and can be “a sign of cognitive problems.”

“The physical exam is more significant for what it leaves out than what it actually tells us,” Siegel opined, and as Dr. David Scheiner, former physician to Barack Obama recently said about the lengths to which the White House will likely go to obfuscate Biden's true condition, particularly ahead of his likely reelection bid, “You're not going to learn anything. They sugarcoat these things.”