The members of the crowd seated in the prime spots behind President Trump during his campaign rally in Manchester, N.H., on Thursday night seemed distracted. Moments earlier, they had been listening with rapt attention as the president railed against “radical Democrats,” but now, one by one, their heads were swiveling away, their gazes affixed on something above them.
Soon, the crowd was roaring, their voices growing so loud inside the Southern New Hampshire University Arena that Trump stopped mid-sentence and turned to look behind him at what had gotten his fans so riled up: protesters.
Much like his supporters, whose loud boos and chants of “U-S-A!” had become deafening, Trump appeared irked by the interruption and made his displeasure known in predictable fashion: heckling the heckler.
“That guy’s got a serious weight problem,” Trump said, apparently singling out a protester being escorted from the venue by security. “Go home, start exercising.”
As the crowd laughed, Trump continued, “Get him out of here please. Got a bigger problem than I do. Got a bigger problem than all of us.”
It remains unclear exactly whom the president was targeting as video of the rally showed several people exiting the venue at the time. At least one reporter there suggested Trump may have mistakenly blasted one of his own supporters, noting that the protesters who left were “thin.”
The personal insult — while not out of character for a president with a long history of attacking people over their physical appearance and slinging barbs at protesters — raised eyebrows Thursday given Trump’s unhealthy diet and reported aversion to exercise beyond regular rounds of golf. In 2018, the 6-foot-3 Trump weighed 239 pounds, according to an official physical exam. This year, exam results released in February did not include any details, only deeming the president to be “in very good health,” The Washington Post’s Anne Gearan reported.
Still, that has not deterred critics, most recently 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, from casting scrutiny on Trump’s physique. In a video taken this past weekend at the Iowa State Fair, the tech entrepreneur laughed as he ridiculed Trump for being “so fat.” The video began widely circulating on Thursday ahead of Trump’s rally.
“I don’t think Donald Trump could run a mile,” Yang said in the clip from ABC News. “Would you guys enjoy trying to watch Donald Trump run a mile? That would be hysterical.”
Yang went on to say that he would challenge Trump “to any physical or mental feat under the sun.”
“What could Donald Trump possibly be better than me at?” he said. “An eating contest. Something that involved trying to keep something on the ground and having really large body mass. Like if there was a hot-air balloon that was rising and you needed to try to keep it on the ground, he would be better than me at that because he is so fat.”
Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly drawn backlash for making offensive remarks about a variety of people ranging from political opponents to random rally protesters, often criticizing them for their weight or appearance.
In one of his most notable moments on the campaign trail, Trump was widely panned for appearing to mock a disabled New York Times reporter during a rally in South Carolina in November 2015. He later denied doing it and refused to apologize.
Some of his belittling nicknames also seem to be inspired by how people look. For example, NBC’s “Meet the Press” host is “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd” and Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) has been called “little pencil-neck Adam Schiff.”
But as The Washington Post reported in 2016, Trump appears to save most of his insults for women.
While running for president, Trump made disparaging comments about Carly Fiorina, who was the only woman vying for the Republican nomination, and Hillary Clinton. According to a 2015 Rolling Stone article, when Trump saw Fiorina on TV, he yelled, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” A year later, he remarked at a rally in North Carolina that he “wasn’t impressed” when Clinton walked in front of him.
Trump has also frequently compared women to animals, usually favoring “dog” or “pig.” Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman was referred to as “that dog.” According to Trump, New York Times columnist Gail Collins had the “face of a pig.” He called actress and comedian Rosie O’Donnell a “big, fat pig.” Adult-film star Stormy Daniels had a descriptor too: “Horseface.”
On Thursday, after firing off his biting put-down about the protester’s weight and implying that the man still lived with his mother, Trump returned to his speech.
“We are continuing our incredible movement,” he said. “Our movement is built on love.”
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