Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician-turned-GOP congressional candidate, suggested on Tuesday that Democratic nominee Joe Biden is mentally unfit for office, citing what he called cognitive decline.
The remarks from Jackson, who has not evaluated Biden, came during a phone call organized by President Trump’s campaign and are part of a sustained effort by Trump’s allies to highlight Biden’s gaffes on the campaign trail, arguing they make him mentally incapable of serving as commander in chief.
Jackson said Tuesday that he was speaking as a “concerned citizen” and not as a Republican congressional candidate.
“As a citizen of this country, I watch Joe Biden on the campaign trail and I am concerned that he does not – am convinced that he does not have the mental capacity, the cognitive ability to serve as our commander in chief and head of state,” Jackson told reporters on the call.
“I really think that he needs some type of cognitive testing before he takes over the reigns as our commander in chief, if that is in the cards,” Jackson added.
Jackson later acknowledged, in response to a question from a reporter, that he has never treated or evaluated Biden and said he was not making a medical assessment of Biden’s mental health.
“I am not making a medical assessment. I actually don’t even practice medicine at this point. I am not doing that,” Jackson said. “I am not trying to remotely diagnose him with anything. I have not accused him of having Alzheimer’s or anything of that nature. I have not made that statement.”
Jackson mentioned a handful of instances from Monday when Biden, who was campaigning in Ohio, could not remember the name of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and mistakenly said he was running for the Senate, not the White House.
In a response to Jackson’s comment, Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement, “I refer you to the first debate.”
Trump and his campaign have been targeting Biden’s mental fitness for months, during which time Biden has built a sizable lead in national polling and an advantage in key battleground states. Trump, meanwhile, has little time to turn his campaign around as Republicans grow concerned about potentially losing the White House and Senate.
Trump’s performance in the first debate against Biden was widely panned by Republicans as a missed opportunity that put scrutiny back on the president instead of Biden. Doug Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee, said the attack on Biden’s gaffes would have been more effective if Trump had executed it during the debate.
“If this is going to be a central part of your theme for your campaign, then you have to attack this tactically. There is no better opportunity for that than the first debate,” Heye told The Hill. “Doing that on a conference call is not going to move the needle.”
On Monday evening, Trump, who