In a late-night tweet on Saturday, President Donald Trump defended himself from those mocking a video where he walks slowly and awkwardly down a ramp. The president took careful steps down the ramp from the stage after addressing the military graduates on Saturday afternoon. While viewers poked fun at the clip, they were even more ruthless when it came to his defensive tweet.
"The ramp that I descended after my West Point Commencement speech was very long [and] steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery," Trump tweeted around 11 p.m. on Saturday night. "The last thing I was going to do is 'fall' for the Fake News to have fun with. Final ten feet I ran down to level ground. Momentum!" The explanation was even more surprising to those who had not seen the video yet, and arguably brought more attention to the topic.
Trump descended a ramp extremely carefully at the end of his West Point speech today pic.twitter.com/uMG3KyB1V1— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 13, 2020
The video in question has now been shared widely, with the C-SPAN clip circulating on all forms of social media. It shows a military official guiding the president to the ramp, then walking deliberately by his side, apparently ready to help if he needed it. At the bottom, the president picked up speed for a moment, then looked around the area, waving to the camera.
Many users related this video to the years of health concerns surrounding the president, including his frequent — sometimes secretive — visits to the Walter Reed Medical Center or even all the way back to the bone spurs in his feet which precluded him from serving in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.
In fact, some users revived jokes about the president's poor balance and coordination going back years. One particular clip from Comedy Centrals The President Show poked fun at Trump's apparent difficulty with stars, ramps and virtually any form of incline.
The President Show nailed Trump’s fear of ramps and stairs in 2017 https://t.co/59YeZfSKZ6— Heather Anne Campbell (@heathercampbell) June 14, 2020
More serious concerns circulated under the hashtags "Trump is unwell" and "Trump stroke," among others. Sunday is the president's 74th birthday, and many questioned his mental and physical health, worried that it might be having a bigger impact on his job performance than is commonly acknowledged.
Trump himself and White House officials have always insisted that he is in great shape for his age, regardless of what critics say. Late-night comedians like Stephen Colbert have gone so far as to question Trump's doctor's insistence that he weighs 239 pounds, guessing that he actually ways more than this.