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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
White House Press Briefing Coverage. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired January 16, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NAVY REAR ADM. DR. RONNY JACKSON, THE PRESIDENT'S PHYSICIAN: And I was really surprised because I didn't know the president early on. You know, when -
the days we'd get these 14, 16-hour days, and you -- the staff is just spent after a while. And you're just like, man, when are we going to the hotel? When are we going down? You know, because you have all the issues of different time zones and things of that nature too.
And I'll tell you, out of everybody there, the president had more stamina and more energy than just about anybody there. And he was the one that was always like, we're not going to skip this event. We're not going to skip this. We're going this. We're going to do that. And stuck to the schedule despite the urging of some of us to let's just -- let's just forget the rest of the day, and (ph).
QUESTION: But -- but can you -- can you explain to me how a guy who eats McDonald's, and (inaudible) and all those Diet Cokes, and who never exercises is in as good a shape as you say he's in?
JACKSON: It's called genetics. I don't know. It's -- some people have, you know, just great genes. You know, I told the president that if he had healthier diet over the last 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old. I don't know. I mean, he has incredible -- he has incredible genes I just assume.
You know, if I -- if I didn't watch what I eat, I -- I wouldn't -- I wouldn't have -- and the cardiac and overall health that he has. So he's very healthy, despite those things. And I don't think that he does that anymore. I mean, you know, he's got (ph) into the White House now. He's -- he's eating what they're -- what the -- what the chef's are cooking for him now. And they're cooking a much healthier diet for him now. And we're going to continue to work on that and make that even healthier.
But I would say the answer to your question is, he has incredibly good genes and it's the way God made him.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson.
JACKSON: Go ahead, right here in the second row.
QUESTION: Oh, thank you. You mentioned that you gave the president a cognitive test. Was that the Mini-Mental State Examination or the Folstein test, or -- and if not, can you tell us what specific cognitive test you gave?
JACKSON: It was Montreal Cognitive Assessment, sometimes referred to as the MoCA, and you can find it online.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, thanks very much. Just a couple of things, do you have a life expectancy range for him based on his results?
Number two, what exactly does the exercise and eating plan look like? Is it that you're going to put an elliptical machine next to the -- the bedroom and he's going to use it? What does that look like? And then also, number three, did you see any evidence of bone spurs, which the president said that he suffered from?
JACKSON: We didn't, you know, he -- none of that stuff's been bothering him recently. So we didn't examine his -- you know, for bone spurs right now. He -- he's not come to me, you know, complaining of that. So there was no reason, in this particular assessment. We were pretty crunched for time, with everything we had done. So we didn't -- we didn't look in -- at issues like that. So we -- I didn't assess that, no.
As far as life expectancy, you know, I'll say he probably won't live to be 200. But I don't know, I think his life expectancy is, you know, I -- I would just have to say, it's the same as every other American male right now, but it's certainly no less.
QUESTION: And then the specifics of the dietary and exercise plan, what -- what's in store?
JACKSON: We're working that out right now. Actually, what I'm doing is I'm -- one of the things is I'm getting a nutrition specialist to come up here and meet with the chefs that we have here. And they're going to go over the preparation of the President' s food, just to make sure that we're, you know, cutting the calories and the -- the fats, and the carbohydrates as much as we possibly can, and still making, you know, good meals for him.
With regards to the exercise, that's something that myself and, you know, potentially Mrs. Trump will work with him upstairs. You know, there's a gym upstairs, and we'll get that setup to -- to his specifications. And we'll -- we'll see -- we'll see how that goes.
QUESTION: Is he limited to one scoop of ice cream now?
JACKSON: I don't -- I don't -- I don't limit -- I don't limit the -- his diet at all. I just -- or I make recommendations. QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, one follow-up question. There -- there isn't anything that's a part of the president's health records, or his overall physical fitness, or any medications that he's taking that you're not permitted to tell us? Is there anything you're keeping from us for privacy reasons?
JACKSON: I can promise you, there's absolutely nothing that I'm -- that I'm withholding from this. And I -- I can tell you that, you know, I've done the last four or five of these. I've been involved in probably the last six or seven of these. And this is, hands down, more information than -- that's been put forth by any other -- any other assessment to date.
I was -- Friday was a good day for me. Friday made today exceptionally easy for me. So when we left Friday, I was like -- you know, it -- it was good for me. It made -- it made this much, much easier for me today. So no, I'm not -- I'm not withholding anything. And I have reviewed the president's past medical records to the extent that they're -- have been made available to me and there's nothing at all that's concerning to me.
QUESTION: Doctor, can you say given the president's age, he's somewhat of a peer to where President Reagan was at this time in his presidency? Can you say, given that there's scrutiny of what was overlooked at the time with President Reagan in terms of Alzheimer's and things he was then known to suffer from at a later date, can you say that -- whether the tests that you ran would exclude any of those things? And what the possibility of overlooking something like that would be? You know, how can you tell the American people that this time, you're certain (ph)?
JACKSON: I can -- I can say that that test, you know, and -- and I don't know President Reagan's actual medical condition, and I don't know what his condition was like toward the end of his presidency. I've read things and seen the documentaries and stuff, just like everybody here. But let's just assume that they're, you know, that -- that he did have some, you know, evidence of cognitive impairment toward the end of his presidency. I think that I can reliably say, and I think that the folks in the mental-health community out there would -- would back me up on the fact that, if he had some type of mental, cognitive issue, that this test is sensitive enough it would pick up on it. He would not have got a 30 out of 30 on the test. So I'm very confident, at this particular stage, that he has nothing like that going on.
And like I said, my personal experience has been that he is -- that -- that -- that he is -- he has absolutely no, you know, cognitive or mental issues whatsoever, that he is very sharp.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, can I ask you a quick question about PSA?
QUESTION: Are you -- are you confident of his prostate health? You recited a very low PSA. You're certain that's not a product of finasteride (ph) advancing (ph)? JACKSON: It -- it may be. You know, I mean, and -- and that -- that is probably why his PSA is as low as it is, because it's very low. But, you know, we have no indication whatsoever on a prostate exam, and based on his previous PSAs that -- that he has any prostate issue going on.
I mean, we'll -- you know, and a lot of people would recommend that you don't even do a PSA anymore. I did one because we had a long history of PSAs on previous exams when I reviewed his past medical record. And so, I thought it made sense to go ahead and do one. And, you know, had I seen a large bump in his PSA or something then that would have been concerning. But I didn't, so we're not -- we're not going down that path.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, did you take a waist measurement for the president? His weight, I think, is at 239, right? That's -- it -- it seems like it's just shy of obesity.
JACKSON: It is, yes.
QUESTION: So it -- you're confident of that number?
QUESTION: And did you do any measurements?
JACKSON: We don't do any measurements. We do height and weight. And then, you know, you can put them in the BMI calculator and, you know, whatever. But it -- we've never done -- we've never done measurements, you know, just -- there -- there's not a lot, you know, there's not a lot of point in it at this point.
I mean, the president's acknowledged that he'd be healthier if he lost a few pounds, and that -- that's what we're going to try to do. So doing measurements, you know, and getting some other -- you know, some other form of calculation wouldn't -- wouldn't have really changed anything clinically for us.
QUESTION: Will you (ph) conduct (ph) any cognitive testing in the future because of his age? In continuing his physicals in the future, will you also continue the cognitive testing?
JACKSON: That's going to be totally up to the president because, like I said before, you know, I didn't feel it was clinically indicated on this round. So, I will continue to monitor the president over the next year. I'll talk to him on a regular basis. I'll visit with him every opportunity. I'll spend lots and lots of time with him over the next year, and if I have any indication that we need to do it, or if I come up with anything on any of his exams that clinically indicates we should do that, then yes, I will recommend doing that. Short of that, if the president wants to get one done next year, then we'll do another one next year.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, was -- It's recommended that most Baby Boomers get screened for hepatitis C? Did you do a hep C test, or has he had one previously?
JACKSON: You know, he has had a hep T -- a C test remotely. I -- I did -- I did find that in his past medical record, but I did not do one this time, so...
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, you talked a little bit about his diet here at the White House. Can you flesh that out a little bit? What specifically he's eating? Is he eating lots of chicken, and fishes, and white meat? And also, is -- does he take any sleep aids?
JACKSON: So the president -- you know, first off, I -- I -- I'll have to admit to you, you know, that -- you know, that -- I see what he eats on the plane some, and he eats the same food that we eat on the plane, which is usually fairly healthy meals, you know, minus the desserts that we get. But I have not been as actively involved in his diet as I will be in the year to come, so I don't have a lot of information on that right now. But he's asked me to -- to get the nutritionists involved, which basically, has given me permission to become involved in that, and I will. So I'll have more information on that, you know, next year.
And then what was the other question?
JACKSON: Oh, sleep aids. The president does take somnambulant medication, like we all do, on overseas travel. So when we travel from one, you know, time zone to another times zone on the other side of the planet, you know, I recommend that everyone on the plane take a sleep aid at certain times, so that we can try our best to get on the -- the schedule of the -- of our destination. So he -- he has, on those occasions, done that.
QUESTION: What about here at the White House? Just when he travels?
JACKSON: No. No, there's -- only -- only during travel.
QUESTION: How much sleep does he get, on average?
JACKSON: He doesn't sleep much. I mean, I -- I would say that, you know, this is just my guess, based on being around him. I didn't as him this question, so I could be wrong on this. But I would say he sleeps four to five hours a night, and -- and, you know, I think he's probably been that way his whole life. That's probably one of the reasons why he's been successful. I don't know, because, you know, me personally, I need a lot more sleep than that. But he's just one of those people, I think, that just does not require a lot of sleep.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, can you say whether your prediction of -- of good health and no serious events for years to come still holds, if the president does not make changes to his diet and start to exercise? Is that still your professional medical opinion? And then also, can you just tell us how long the examination was, or to start to finish, how many people were involved?
JACKSON: Yeah. So I don't know. I mean, I guess it's going to depend, because you know, you know, this time next year, we'll do a lot of the same tests. We'll do cardiac assessments and everything else. When we get the objective data next year, we'll look at it, and we'll recalibrate, and if he's made a lot of changes, I assume that, you know, he'll be -- he'll be in even better shape than he is right now, you know, with the -- if -- if -- if he's -- if he's eaten better, you know, and he's lost a few pounds.
But, you know, even if he hasn't, you know, I won't make that assessment without doing a lot of the objective testing that we just did this time.
So, and then the other question was...
QUESTION: How long was the entire (inaudible)...
JACKSON: Yeah, so the exam was -- right.
QUESTION: And then how many people were involved?
JACKSON: The exam lasted about four-plus hours, so I think we were there, well, about four hours, I think. And I had a total of, I believe, 12 consultants involved in it. You know, I don't -- I don't execute these physicals in a vacuum. I have a lot of specialists available to me, and just like on a day-to-day basis. I'm somewhat of a quarterback, with regards to his care, so I spent weeks speaking with consultants, and -- and trying to figure out, you know, how to plan his exam appropriately, and what was appropriate for his exams. So it was a team effort with a lot of the physicians at Walter Reed, who did a great job helping me take care of him.
QUESTION: Thank you, Dr. Jackson. Was there anything that the president or anyone else specifically said for you not to mention today?
JACKSON: Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, you know, there -- there's a lot of things here, I was like, "Are you OK with me mentioning this?" He was like, "Absolutely. I don't care." So I -- Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, some of the president's friends have -- have told reporters in the past they think he's a germaphobe; that he washes his hands obsessively, and is concerned about that. Do you -- do you see any indication of that type of behavior, with being around the president?
JACKSON: No, I mean, he washes his hands frequently. He uses, you know, Purell, and as many hands as he shakes in a day, he'd be a fool not to. So I think, you know, the more he can wash his hands and use Purell, I'm -- I'm encouraging that, so I'm never going to say that's anything that he shouldn't be doing. So I would like for him to continue to be a bit of a germaphobe, and make my job a little bit easier along the way.
QUESTION: Doctor, how would you characterize the president's health to an average seventy-one-year-old American male? JACKSON: I'd say based on his cardiac assessment, hands down, there's no question that he is -- he is in the excellent range, from a cardiac standpoint. And that's not me speaking. That's objective data. You know, you can look at the -- the data that was collected, and he -- he will definitely fall under that category.
QUESTION: Is that just cardiac, or is it everything?
JACKSON: Well, it's cardiac, and I mean, you know, look at his vision. I mean, he's, you know, he's 71 years old, and his bilateral and corrected vision is 20/30. I mean, he can drive, if he wants to, without glasses, and you know, I can -- you know, you know, a lot of people his age can't do that. So I think, you know, if you look at, you know, a lot of things across the board, he's, you know, he -- he's -- he's very healthy. So that's why I put out in the statement, you know, that the president's health is excellent, because his overall health is excellent.
Are there a few things he could do to make himself a little healthier with the diet and exercise? Absolutely, and he's tracking that. I'm tracking that, and we're working on that. But overall, he has very, very good health, excellent health.
QUESTION: Doctor, just to be clear though, Dr. Jackson, he -- he is taking cholesterol-lowering medication. He has evidence of heart disease, and he's borderline obese. Can you characterize that as excellent health?
JACKSON: I mean, I think based on his current cardiac, you know, study, I mean, his heart is very healthy. Those are all things that we're looking at with regards, but you know, you're -- you're a neurosurgeon with, you know, there -- there's -- there's stroke issues there too, but, you know, we're focusing on his cardiac, you know, health, and -- and, you know, as an indicator of what the rest of his, you know, vascular health might be like. He has very -- you know, he has no evidence of peripheral vascularization. His heart exam, like I said, I think was -- was in the excellent category for his age and sex.
So I think that despite that, that you've mentioned, I think that we're doing a -- doing a decent job with his cholesterol. I would say that his -- the dose of his cholesterol medicine is very low. He takes a very low dose of his cholesterol medicine right now, so we have a lot of room to increase that. Most cardiologists would put a patient on a larger dose of cholesterol medicine than that to start with. So we're going to up that, and I suspect that when we do that, his cholesterol, his LDL will fall even more. And then, you know, like I said, you know, if we do the diet and exercise, I mean, I just don't think that, you know, that -- that -- that he's got much room to do anything else.
QUESTION: You just said there were stroke concerns as well?
JACKSON: No, no. I said, I was talking to Dr. -- Dr. Duke (ph), just saying that, you know, it's not just the heart, you know; that he's asking questions about -- understand that he's asking questions about vascular health, including heart disease and stroke and stuff. So I'm saying that we're looking at that. We're looking at his vascular, you know, health overall, and it looks very good right now.
QUESTION: What about potential diabetic changes, as a result of his weight?
JACKSON: He hasn't -- he hasn't -- yeah.
QUESTION: (inaudible) is real good, but what about potential, because of the weight as he gets old?
JACKSON: I mean, yeah, sure. I mean, you know, that's always a possibility, and we'll monitor that. But right now, his hemoglobin A1C was normal, and his fasting blood glucose was normal, so right now, he has no evidence of diabetes at all. So we'll continue, you know, it'll be a routine thing that we do every year with fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin, and A1C, and if that becomes a problem, we'll address it.
QUESTION: Did you test his hearing?
JACKSON: I did not test his hearing. We'll test his hearing -- the only reason I didn't test his hearing was because I didn't have enough time to do it in this particular exam. We had the exam pretty packed, and we had to make some conscious decisions about what we did and didn't want to do, and hearing seemed low on the -- low on the priority list right now, and it's something I can do at any -- any given point, so we will do that, though. I will get a baseline hearing test on him, just because I generally do that.
QUESTION: Thank you. Does the president -- when the president has his colonoscopy at the next physical, will he be sedated?
JACKSON: That's going to be up to the president. You know I will recommend that he is, because just -- you know, you can do virtual colonoscopies where you're not sedated. I've had patients do both. I'm a big fan of the optical colonoscopy. I just like -- you know, so I will recommend if he does it next -- next year that -- that he be sedated (inaudible) an optical colonoscopy.
QUESTION: When that happens, are you part of the decision-making process on handing over power to the vice president or whoever while he's sedated?
JACKSON: I'll be making recommendations on that with the chief of staff and National Security Council and everybody else. I won't make that decision, but I will be a part of that discussion.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, thank you.
You say that the president was the one who requested the cognitive test, that it wasn't necessarily needed for someone of his age. Did you -- did he tell you why he wanted it done? There's been a lot of speculation out there about his cognitive state. Did -- was he upset with some of that talk? What were the discussions that you had from when he told you this is why I want to do it? Why did he say he wanted to do it?
JACKSON: I don't think he was -- he wasn't upset with it, but that did drive part of the process. I think, you know, this has been the narrative for a while, and I think he saw doing the physical as an opportunity to -- to put some of that to rest. And I think that, you know, he wasn't, you know, obviously the least bit concerned that he had anything to hide. And so he saw -- he -- he -- he actively asked me to include that in it, so we did. So that -- that -- you know, I think...
QUESTION: Was there any one incident that kind of made him, you know, say, hey, this is something I want to do or just a collection of -- of voices of -- criticisms or guess? (ph)
JACKSON: Not that I'm aware of. I mean he didn't mention any one particular instance to me. And the reason it came up is I was going over his physical exam with him, discussing all the other things that we're going to do and I was giving him a rundown of what we were going to do on that day, and he asked me at that point, could I include this in the -- in the assessment? And so it wasn't driven by anything that had just happened or anything he'd just heard or seen.
QUESTION: ... criticism, so it was no (ph)?
JACKSON: I have no idea. He didn't discuss any of that stuff with me. He just asked me, he said, hey, can we do this, and -- and so we did.
QUESTION: Dr, Jackson, on the president's stress level, in your conversations and your examinations, did he express any change in how stressful this job or -- or lack of stress that he has experienced as a result of becoming president?
JACKSON: No, no. I -- I talk to him sometimes about stress, you know, just -- you know, just because I think it's my job as his physician to -- to bring that up on occasion, as I do with many other members of the administration.
I've never seen the president, you know, stressed out about too much. He -- I think the one thing that I've noticed about him that I think is unique and I think -- and this is just my personal opinion; this has nothing to do with my medical assessment, but I think that one of the -- one of the things he has that's unique that I think is probably -- you know, I would just assume has led to some of his success over the years, he has a very unique ability to just get up in the morning and reset. And I've seen it before where, you know, things are going on and I -- you know, I think, you know, a lot of people around him and -- you know, and myself if I were in that situation, I would get up in the next morning and -- and, you know, the next day would build on the day before, and I would start getting more and more stressed.
He has the unique ability to somewhat set -- to push the reset button, and he gets up and he just starts a new day. And I think that overall, that has helped him, you know, with his stress level and with his -- you know, and made him healthier from a stress standpoint.
QUESTION: Follow up on the questions of a few of my colleagues regarding an exercise routine for the president. You said you've had these conversations with him. Could you take us through some specific exercises that you and the president are considering as you look at this routine?
JACKSON: No, I mean, I think any -- you know, just -- there's a variety of ways to do this. You know, you can do stationary bike. You can do an elliptical. You know, you can do treadmill. You know, I mean, you know, I want to do something that's low-impact. You know, I don't want to do something that's going to cause the president to have, you know, joint issues and things of that nature.
So what I'll do is I'll look at, you know, how we can do something aerobically and how we can do it with minimum impact on -- on his joints and then that's what I'll approach him with as the best option.
QUESTION: Does he watch too much TV? (Inaudible) cut back on that?
JACKSON: You know, I'm not going to comment on that. I mean, you know, I might comment on that if that were my 5-year-old. I might tell you they watch too much TV, but I'm not going to -- the president, you know he can watch as much T.V. as he wants. You know, and I don't know how much TV he watches, so I'm not going to -- that's something I just can't comment on. So. Yes.
QUESTION: ... asking, because of the seated sort of aspect (inaudible) watching versus the active lifestyle part of it.
JACKSON: I mean, I don't know. I mean I don't if he -- you know, what he's doing when he's watching TV most of the time. He might be, you know, in the office, he might be seated. I just don't know. I mean, I think he spends probably as much time seated in a sedentary role as a lot of us do that have office jobs and you know, things of that nature. I don't think that the TV -- watching TV really contributes to that that much, in my opinion.
QUESTION: ...performed a cognitive assessment.
QUESTION: What is your take of all the doctors and clinicians all across the country who have said that in this president, they see symptoms of this, that and the other?
JACKSON: Symptoms in what way?
QUESTION: Well, symptoms of dementia, symptoms of...
JACKSON: I would say that, you know, the American Psychiatric Association has said so too, you know. I think that, you know, the people shouldn't be making those kinds of assessments about the president unless they've had the opportunity to get to know him and examine him. And you know, in my opinion, that's just tabloid psychiatry and I just don't -- you know, I'm not going to address it or -- or fall into -- you know, to -- to responding to those kinds of questions or accusations.
QUESTION: How would you describe his diet before he became president? A lot's been said about too much McDonalds, too many burgers. Do you think it was problematic?
JACKSON: To be honest with you, I have no idea. I just had the same information you have. I didn't know the president before January 20th, so I -- I never saw him eat a meal before the -- before January 20. So I have no information on that.
QUESTION: Thank you. You said you're -- you're not sure how much sleep he gets a night, but you assume it's between four to five hours. Does that concern you? Would you recommend him to try to get more sleep?
JACKSON: I mean, sure. I think more sleep for all of us would be helpful. But it doesn't really concern me because I think it's -- it's just his nature. I think he's always been that way and I just think that it works for him. It wouldn't work for me, but it works for him. And so sure, if he could get more sleep, that'd be great, but I just don't think that -- you know, that that's likely to happen. That's just the way he's wired.
In the back.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, did you tell the current president about his predecessors' exercise routine? And does this president ask you about how he could follow his predecessors' example to be as fit as Barack Obama was?
And the second question, do you keep a tally of how much golf the U.S. president plays? That is something the press office repeatedly does not tell us. Do you keep a tally, and do you consider that exercise?
JACKSON: No, I've not had that conversation. No, I don't keep a tally. And yes, like everything else, being on the golf course, there is a certain amount of exercise involved in that.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) president take any medications that you haven't disclosed here today?
JACKSON: He does not. He doesn't take any medications at all that I've not disclosed here.
QUESTION: Can you give us some idea of exactly what that cognitive exam involved over that half hour? And does that conclusively rule out any further psychological exam?
JACKSON: Well, yes. Like I said, it does. It -- you can look online and see what it's all about. You know, you can -- it's easy to pull -- just pull it up online, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. You'll see it right there, and you can -- you can see what all it entails. It does rule out the need to do any other cognitive testing. That's the reason you do it. It's a screening tool.
If you do well on it -- I think anything above 26 is normal. And if you do a -- if you get a 30 out of 30, I think you can -- you can confidently assume that you're done (ph) on the cognitive workup for now.
QUESTION: Do you have any concerns about the president's Twitter?
JACKSON: No, I don't -- yes, Twitter doesn't involve me as a doctor. I don't -- I don't -- I don't have any concern on that.
QUESTION: Thank you, Dr. Jackson.
The president is the first lifelong teetotaler and non-smoker to sit in the Oval Office since President Jimmy Carter. Can you say that that has extended his life in any way and makes him unusually healthier for his age?
JACKSON: I would say that my opinion, it has had a big impact, especially the smoking part of it. So, you know, like I said, he has incredible cardiac fitness at this point in his life. And I think a large part of that is probably due to the fact that he has had a life of abstinence from tobacco and alcohol, in particular tobacco.
QUESTION: Thank you. You mentioned a whole bunch of doctors that participated in (inaudible), and there are other questions asked today about the president's emotional health. Is there anyone on the president's medical team such as a psychiatrist or psychologist whose job it is to monitor the president's emotional state or watch for potential psychiatric problems or indicators of those?
JACKSON: No, that's not anyone's official duty. I have an -- all specialists at my disposal, both civilian and military, including psychiatry, should I need them. But that is really my job as his primary care doctor. And I'm pretty suited for in the sense that I am -- that I see him on a regular basis every day. So I think that that falls upon me to do that.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) first and foremost like meditation or mindfulness? Where do you stand on that?
JACKSON: So the question is -- would I recommend any type of alternative medicine?
QUESTION: No, no, no. (Inaudible) recommendation against the burnout, like, meditation or mindfulness. Where do you stand on that?
JACKSON: Sure. I mean, I think those are all relaxation methods. I think that in general any of those that can get involved in that, that can find the time for that. I think that those are helpful in that they make you healthier. So, yes. I mean, I am not opposed to him being involved in those kinds of things in the future.
QUESTION: Realistically, what do you think you're going to get him to do as far as exercise? (Inaudible) exercise buddies and needs one.
JACKSON: Yes. I'm going to get him to do some stuff. We're going to make some progress. I'm not worried about it.
QUESTION: Like what?
JACKSON: I don't know. We'll see. I mean, but it's going to be aerobic exercise. You know, and like I said, it's going to be something hat spares his joints and is healthy for him. So we're going to work on that.
QUESTION: Thanks, Doctor. Will your office be working with the White House chef at all that (inaudible) in terms of formulating what kind of diet he is going to eat?
JACKSON: Am I working with him?
QUESTION: And is there some sort of like set plan?
JACKSON: Right, yes, like I said -- right, like I said, to this point I have not been as involved in that as I want to be. But I'm getting -- I will become much more involved in that relationship from this point forward since the president has given me direction to do so.
QUESTION: You made a statement saying that you expect the president to be in good health for the duration of his term, or even a second term, if he gets it. Was there a specific request from the president to make that statement or from anyone in the administration or anyone in the White House?
JACKSON: No, absolutely not. I think someone asked a question regarding fitness for duty. And, you know, it just -- it's a natural extension of the fitness for duty assessment, you know, now and for the remainder of his presidency. And so I just followed that up with, you know, one term or two terms, you know, so, you know, no one had prompted me or prepped me to ask any -- or to answer in any such way.
QUESTION: Doctor, you have been answering questions here for more than 50 minutes, by my take, which I think is really extraordinary. Is that an indication of the president's desire to put all these rumors and questions to rest once and for all?
JACKSON: Absolutely. I think the president encouraged me to come out and he specifically told me, he said, I want you to get out there and I want you to talk to them and I want you to answer every single question they have.
He called Sarah and he told Sarah, I do not want you pulling him off that stage, you leave him up there until he is ready to come off. And so, yes, I think that two reasons, one is because the president wants me up here, and two, because as of Friday I was pretty excited about getting up here and talking about his health because Friday was a good day.
And he gave me a lot of -- it made me enthusiastic about being up here today. So that's really where we're going.
JACKSON: Absolutely, yes.
QUESTION: Dr. Jackson, just one more question about the Montreal exam and other sort of mini-mental status exams. They're pretty good, but they're not really sensitive to someone who is already high- functioning. They're not really good at finding early stages of dementia. If the president is worried about it, would you recommend more sophisticated exams?
JACKSON: Yes, if he's worried about it, which he is not. But I think, you know...
JACKSON: Right. I think that they are actually pretty specific at finding, you know, subtle cognitive changes, at least everything I've read about him, you know, they'll tell you -- the psychiatrists and psychologists that utilize these things will tell you that they will pick up stuff, you know, that even the patient is sometimes not aware of .
So I think that they're great screening tools and I think short of having any type of issue with that -- a cognitive screening tool, I wouldn't recommend doing anything beyond that.
QUESTION: Are you saying -- this is my ignorance, but are we saying that because of Reagan, all right, we had the issues with Reagan, and the issues about this president, cognitive testing, mental acuity testing is not commonly part of an annual physical with the president of the United States?
JACKSON: I'm saying I'm totally unaware of this ever being done before. As far as I know, no president has ever had a cognitive assessment as president of the United States. This is the very first time it has ever happened. If anybody is aware of any of it happening before then they have information I don't have because I look pretty extensively, not to mention the fact that I know most of the physicians that are alive that have taken care of the last three, four, and maybe five presidents, and it has never been done.
QUESTION: With the power that he wields, should it not be?
JACKSON: In my opinion, as his physician, no. If the American public somehow thinks that that is part of an assessment for president, then I suppose they can incorporate that into your ability to run for president or serve in office. But that is really not my call. I approach the president
like I would any other patient. And he has gone above and beyond what I --