In a now-viral video, Trump was seen Saturday taking small, visibly tentative steps as he walked down a standard-looking ramp at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, the academy’s superintendent, hovered nearby, keeping pace with the president while he slowly descended.
“You know, for a guy who constantly talks about how tough he is, he sure walks like a baby deer on a frozen pond,” Meyers quipped, playing footage of the Trump’s walk. “What is wrong with him? Are we going to have to get him an Acorn Stairlift?”
Similar questions and derision have been swirling since the ramp video and another clip of Trump awkwardly using a second hand to lift a water glass to his mouth were first shared to social media on Saturday, prompting renewed scrutiny of Trump’s health ahead of the presidential election. While campaigning, Trump has repeatedly mocked former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, over his age and mental acuity.
Amid concerns about Trump, who turned 74 on Sunday, many detractors, including Republican operatives behind an anti-Trump group, started circulating the hashtag #TrumpIsNotWell this weekend and rushed to frame the videos as a direct challenge to the president’s vitality.
The pointed speculation did not appear to sit well with Trump, who has long aimed to be perceived as strong and vigorous. Late Saturday, as the unflattering hashtag trended on Twitter, Trump fired off an eyebrow-raising explanation for his cautious gait, tweeting that the ramp “was very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery.”
But the explanation, which appeared inconsistent with the weather that day and visuals of the scene, did little to quell the reactions that continued well into Monday night as TV comics weighed in and Trump’s supporters — including his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, in a Fox News appearance — still found themselves justifying the president’s walk down the ramp.
On CBS, host Stephen Colbert kicked off his show with a cold open that treated Trump’s brief walk as if it were a riveting sports broadcast.
“Daredevil Donald is about to tempt the fates by trying to walk down a gentle decline,” an announcer said. “Let’s take a look at the ramp. Check out that pitch, a precipitous 4.8-degree slope.”
As video played of Trump taking his first step, the announcer provided an energetic play-by-play.
“And there he goes! Attacking the slope with a precise shuffle,” the voice said. “One foot and then the other comes to meet it. Much like a bride walking down the aisle. His main goal: Just stay upright.”
“If it had been a ramp, he’d still be coming down,” Colbert joked. “But you can’t blame the guy, any time he’s around the military those damn bone spurs act up.”
Jimmy Fallon noted that it was impossible for him to only pick one joke about the moment.
“So, I’m going to tell as many jokes as I can in the time it took Trump to walk down that ramp,” Fallon said on NBC.
“He was just doing an impression of his approval rating,” the host said, reading quickly from papers in his hand as video played of Trump’s walk.
“That was still faster than his response to the coronavirus,” Fallon added. “He broke his first Fitbit record, 10 steps. He looked like a skier doing pizza instead of french fries. That’s his audition tape for ‘American Ninja Warrior.’ It would be faster if he sat at the top and did a butt-scooch down.”
Meanwhile, Meyers only had questions.
“I watched that and for the first time thought, … maybe he does have bone spurs?” he said.
The late-night hosts also took time to mock Trump’s version of events.
Meyers called the tweet a “truly ludicrous explanation,” zeroing in on Trump’s claim that he ran down the final stretch of the ramp.
“Whoa! Is that President Trump or the Flash? Slow down, Usain Bolt,” Meyers said, as footage showed Trump slightly quickening his pace toward the bottom of the ramp. “That’s not running, bud. That’s what you do when you realize someone’s holding the door for you and you’re still a few steps away.”
He went on to joke that the description Trump gave of the ramp made it sound like a “Slip 'N Slide.”
“It was a very treacherous ramp coated with oil, littered with banana peels and due to a luggage mix-up, the only footwear available to me were a pair of Heelys,” Meyers said, impersonating Trump.
Jimmy Kimmel was equally critical.
“I wasn’t shuffling down that ramp like an old man, it was slippery and I ran down it,” Kimmel said, before quoting a fake Trump tweet that read: “Also the ramp was covered in banana peels and there were many SNAKES. I AM BRAVER THAN EVERY SOLDIER.”
But as Kimmel tells it, Trump’s ramp incident wasn’t the history-making part of his commencement address at West Point on Saturday.
“No president in the history of this country has ever taken a weirder drink of water than this,” Kimmel said, airing a clip of Trump lifting a small glass of water to his mouth with his right hand and using his left hand to steady the glass before taking a sip.
“Is it possible that, like so many former members of his staff, his arm just doesn’t want to work with him anymore?” Kimmel asked.
Similarly, Colbert described Trump’s water break as “the most suspenseful moment of the speech.”
“I know he famously has never had a cocktail, but he still clearly has a drinking problem,” Colbert said. He later added, “Good thing he wasn’t wearing a mask, he might have looked weak.”