US President Donald Trump has repeatedly been referred to as a “narcissistic maniac” by Virginia’s Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, who is also a pediatric neurologist and campaigning to become the state’s next governor.
“We want to be medically correct,” Northam recently stated in a televised news program when asked about the use of the term, inciting a heated debate within the medical profession about whether it is ethical to speculate about the health of public figures, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
According to the report, Northam has grabbed attention by repeatedly describing Trump a “narcissistic maniac” at campaign events and in commercial ads across the state and in the metropolitan Washington region, which includes the White House.
In the ad, Northam talks about the importance of listening as a doctor, and in his current position as lieutenant governor. Then, he looks at the camera and calmly states, “I’m listening carefully to Donald Trump and I think he’s a narcissistic maniac.”
The issue emerged as a major topic during the country’s 2016 election cycle, when many were questioning both Hillary Clinton’s physical well-being and Donald Trump’s mental health.
According to Northam’s spokesman David Turner, the lieutenant governor coined the phrase himself, drawing on both his medical training and his conversational way of speaking.
Northam began calling Trump a maniac in speeches before Democratic activists in early March.
Tom King, a consultant for Northam, acknowledged that there was a potential for backlash from Democrats, but added that so far he has not noticed evidence of it harming the campaign.
Northam is currently competing against former Congressman Tom Perriello for the Democratic nomination in the June 13 primary.
The lieutenant governor leaned into his medical expertise when NBC News’ Meet the Press host Chuck Todd grilled him about the use of “narcissistic maniac” in an interview this week.
“Isn’t narcissism a technical term? Are you using the term the way your medical training would tell you?” Todd asked. “You know, I’m a pediatric neurologist, there’s a lot of overlap between psychiatry and neurology, and I would invite the viewers to look up the criteria for narcissism…You believe he meets the clinical.”
“I think they’ll see some familiarity with what they’ll see,” Northam finished, reaffirming his assessment of Trump in a tweet, saying, “Yeah, I said it” along with a clip his commercial add repeating the attention-grabbing line.