A new video from Donald Trump's campaign uses footage of Hillary Clinton coughing and stumbling during her bout with pneumonia, in the latest example of the Republican nominee's embrace of conservative media Internet memes.
The ad, “Dangerous,” begins with a rote narration about Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, blaming her for “Libya and North Africa in chaos” and other foreign threats. It pivots to footage of Clinton coughing at a February 2016 stop in New York, an image of Clinton being helped after tripping on a stairway that month, and, finally, mobile phone camera footage of Clinton teetering as the Secret Service escorts her from last month's 9/11 memorial service. “Hillary Clinton doesn't have the fortitude, strength or stamina to lead in our world,” says a narrator, as Clinton enters an SUV.
It's the sort of attack that some of Trump's most passionate supporters have pined for, but its timing is curious. After the stumble, which drove news for days, pollsters found (correctly) that Clinton had been misleading about her health, but that few votes were switching because of it. After the first presidential debate, which came after Clinton took several days off the trail to recover from her illness, YouGov — one of the few pollsters testing the question — found the percentage of voters worried that Clinton's health was “not good enough” to endure the presidency careening from 43 to 35 percent. That was roughly what it had been before the 9/11 memorial video.
But on pro-Trump news sites, it's taken for granted that Clinton's health is collapsing and the media is in coverup mode. Gateway Pundit, a site frequently linked by the Drudge Report, frequently posts video of Clinton carefully walking up or down stairs with headlines like “Sick Hillary Can Barely Walk Down a Few Steps at Small FL Rally.” After the second presidential debate, which Clinton's team (and snap polling) called a win, Clinton told reporters to hurry onto the plane “so we can have some drinks served.” At Gateway Pundit and on pro-Trump Twitter, this became the basis for speculation that Clinton was an alcoholic.