Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), one of the Republican congressional caucus's most unfiltered members, told a morning crowd at the annual Values Voter Summit that Hillary Clinton was "mentally impaired" thanks to a 2012 concussion and that the news media was not doing all it could to reveal this.

"Maybe it was the concussion, the fall, back when she did," said Gohmert at the conference, held every fall and co-sponsored by a coalition of social conservative groups. "Or maybe, who knows? They won't tell her what's going on with her. If I were going to smash cellphones, BlackBerrys, I'd use a two-pound sledge. Who knows maybe somebody got to wailing around and hit her again. But we need to be praying for Hillary Clinton. There's special needs there. There's mental impairment."

Clinton has dismissed the debunked rumors about her health and has joked about them, telling late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, "Back in October the National Enquirer said I'd be dead in six months. So with every breath I take I feel like it's a repudiation."

The idea that the Democratic nominee has been badly hobbled by age and injury has leapt from the fringes to the mainstream of conservative media, urged along by Sean Hannity of Fox News and the agenda-defining Drudge Report. Emails from Clinton's time at the State Department have been cited as evidence that she needs constant help; Todd Madison, a Secret Service agent who travels with Clinton, has repeatedly been misidentified as a mysterious doctor who must be with the nominee at all times.

Donald Trump says his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton "lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on" Islamic State militants (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

According to a Battleground poll from George Washington University this week, slightly more people say they think Clinton is "healthy enough to be effective" (43 percent) than Trump (41 percent).

At the Values Voter Summit, Gohmert didn't need to explain any of this. As the audience laughed along, Gohmert recounted a recent appearance on "Fox and Friends," where he tweaked the lyrics of a country song to "I can't remember/Hillary's brain's in a blender."

"That was not a proper thing to say," Gohmert joked. "I was making fun of the mentally impaired, and that's not right."