Donald Trump slipped a fact-free conspiracy theory on Joe Biden into his stump speech

Speaking to a crowd of supporters in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, President Donald Trump leveled a massiveand totally unprovenallegation against former Vice President Joe Biden.

Here’s the conspiracy theory, in its entirety:
This guy doesn’t have a clue. He doesn’t know where the hell he is and they’ll give him a shot of something. I don’t know. He’s going to get something. He’ll beyou know because I watch him so badly. He performed so badly in the debates and then with Bernie, he was average, not great, but he got through. And I said what the hell is he taking? And we’d like to ask him and I said that. We want a drug test. We want a drug test. We’ll both take it. We’ll both take it.
[Shakes head slowly]
    Asi que, just to be crystal clear here: The President of the United States is alleging that the former vice president of the United Statesand the Democratic presidential nomineetook some sort of performance-enhancing drugs in order to improve his debate performance in the spring against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and will do so again before the first general election debate this coming Tuesday. And Trump is even specific about how it happens; “They’ll give him a shot of something,” he says of Biden.
    What proof does Trump have for such a serious claim? That Biden, to his mind, did better in the one-on-one debate with Sanders on March 15 than he had done in the other Democratic presidential debates earlier in the race.
    Which, por supuesto, isn’t proof at all. De hecho, even if you believeas Trump doesthat Biden was better in the Sanders debate than in the previous ones (and I think he was), there are lots of non-drugs reasons for it. Here are two: 1) a one-on-one debate is very different than a debate with 8 o 10 candidates on stage 2) Biden was coming off a series of victories in early March and was more confident in his chances of winning and, therefore, more comfortable onstage.
    What’s remarkable is that Trump has so normalized fact-free conspiracy theories3 a 5 million people illegally voted in the 2016 elección, Barack Obama ordered a spying operation on his 2016 Campaña, Obama wasn’t born in the United Statesduring his time in public life (and the White House) that when he adds something like this claim about Biden into his 2020 stump speech, people don’t bat an eye.

    But people: The President is saying that his general election opponent is getting ashot of somethingto improve his performance in debates! Me gusta, WHAT??!?!?!?
    (Barra lateral: What would that even be? A shot of caffeine delivered intravenously? Or some sort of upper? I don’t know and, por supuesto, neither does Trump.)
    Calling out the irresponsibility of Trump’s claimand the fact-free nature of itwon’t change the minds of the President’s voters who are ready to believe the absolute worst about Biden, Democrats and the media, and regard countervailing facts as yet more evidence that there’s a conspiracy to keep this information from them. Nor will it lead Republican elected officials to speak out publicly that, maybe, it’s a dangerous thing for Trump to suggest that Biden is using drugs to improve his performance in the final six weeks of the campaign.
      But simply because it won’t change those minds or impel GOP politicians to say Trump needs to stop this sort of stuff doesn’t meanas some suggestwe should ignore it entirely. This false and irresponsible claim is now a part of the speech Trump gives at essentially every rally for his 2020 Campaña. The relentless repetition ensures that the idea will seep into the public consciousness and potentially impact the way people outside of the hardcore Trump base view not only Biden’s debate performance but his candidacy more broadly.
      Which is Trump’s longstanding MO. Make an outrageous claim with no facts to back it up. Repeat. And hope people don’t conduct the due diligence to realize you are just saying wild stuff.

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