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Trump, 77, issues letter lauding his health and weight loss on Biden's 81st birthday

Then-President Donald Trump walks past weights and a crane after delivering remarks at the White House in July 2020.
Jim Watson
/
AFP via Getty Images
Then-President Donald Trump walks past weights and a crane after delivering remarks at the White House in July 2020.

Former President Donald Trump shared a report proclaiming his "exceptional" cognitive health on Monday — a thinly veiled shot at Joe Biden on the president's 81st birthday.

The note, signed by Trump's personal physician, is heavy on praise but light on detail, describing the overall health of the Republican primary front-runner as "excellent" and his performance on cognitive tests as "exceptional."

It also claims Trump has "reduced his weight through an improved diet and continued daily physical activity" and credits this as the reason his "laboratory analysis" came back more favorable than in prior testing. But no specific metrics are listed.

In August, Trump self-reported his height and weight to the Fulton County Jail as 6'3" and 215 pounds. Some on social media pointed out those were the same dimensions as Ravens Quarterback Lamar Jackson (though Jackson, at 6'2", is technically shorter).

Trump weighed in at 243 pounds during a presidential physical in 2019. His doctor said then he was overall in "very good health," but was technically obese.

The 77-year-old's health has long been a source of speculation and intrigue. Trump himself turned the topic into a campaign talking point when he accused then-Democratic presidential nominee Hilary Clinton of lacking the "stamina" to carry out presidential duties.

A series of medical mishaps and apparent attempts to mislead the public have only ratcheted up the interest.

In 2015, Trump's physician claimed he would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency," then later admitted that the patient himself dictated the memo.

In 2020, Trump's doctors received criticism for offering contradictory or incomplete updates on the then-president's bout of the coronavirus, which turned into a superspreader event.

And in the same year, Trump fueled days of media discourse for bragging about his performance on a dementia test, which he framed as an intelligence test. He said the questions involved identifying an elephant and repeating the words "Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV."

As he vies for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Trump has repeatedly attacked Biden's mental acuity, portraying him as a senile puppet propped up by his staff.

And polls repeatedly show that some voters are getting the same impression.

It reads like a campaign strategy, then, that Trump's team chose to release the glowing medical report on the same day as the president's birthday, even though the report itself notes that Trump's latest "comprehensive examination" occurred on Sept. 13.

Biden's last physical in February 2023 produced a clean bill of health, but his physical and verbal stumbles continue to make national headlines.

Speaking during the White House turkey pardoning ceremony on Monday, Biden appeared to confuse Britney Spears and Taylor Swift not long after he'd made a joke about his age.

"It's difficult turning 60," he quipped.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.