Trump slurs his words in a public speech, sparking health concerns

The speech started strong.
The speech started strong.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
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Donald Trump closed a speech Wednesday (Dec. 6) on moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem with a familiar phrase, “and God bless the United States.”

In the last 30 seconds of the speech, however, his pronunciation of some words seemed to slur. The last phrase was clearly mangled, as if he had a mouthful of marbles, or was maybe wearing a retainer:

“Wait—what was that?,” the internet asked immediately. Thousands of people on social media suddenly became armchair physicians, diagnosing the president with everything from a serious medical condition to a drinking problem.

Trump was the oldest US president-elect in history when he won the election last year, and his junk food-heavy diet would be unhealthy for someone one-third his age. But he doesn’t drink, and his change in pronunciation from the beginning of his speech, which was only a few minutes long, seemed more akin to someone with an orthodontic device, like dentures, than any serious condition.

The White House would not provide Quartz with an on-the-record answer about what had caused the president’s pronunciation to veer off course  towards the end of the speech. Spokesman Raj Shah told the Los Angeles Times it was a case of “dry mouth.”

Could it possibly be something else, Quartz asked Shah? There’s nothing to be ashamed of about having dentures at Trump’s age, for example, and if that were the case, it would likely reassure people who had concerns that it might be something more serious.

“Report whatever you would like to report,” Shah responded. “This isn’t news.”

While the US president has traditionally had an annual physical while in office, and made the results public, there’s no law compelling Trump to do so. Trump released some details about his health ahead of last year’s election in response to pressure after his personal physician had declared he would be the “healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”