howard dean trump cocaine debate sot ath_00002926.jpg
howard dean trump cocaine debate sot ath_00002926.jpg
CNN —  

Howard Dean said Friday he regrets suggesting – with no evidence – that Donald Trump is a cocaine user.

Dean, a former Democratic presidential candidate and a medical doctor, did not apologize to Trump, but for “using innuendo” that contributed to the toxic tone of this year’s campaign.

“I apologize for using innuendo,” Dean said on MSNBC, where he’s a contributor. “I don’t think it’s a good thing to do. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”

Trump has said he uses neither alcohol nor drugs. His children recently told CNN that when they were growing up, their father told them every morning to avoid alcohol and drugs.

Dean made the apology for innuendo after coming under fire, including from fellow Democrats, for his initial social media post during Monday night’s debate and later defense of the claim. He faced that pressure in a Friday morning interview on MSNBC by an anchor who shamed Dean by saying he was behaving “like Donald is.”

On Monday, Dean, a medical doctor, had tweeted, “Notice Trump sniffing all the time. Coke user?”

The next day, he said Trump had demonstrated the “signature of people who use cocaine.”

“I just was struck by the sniffing and then by his behavior which came together, these four symptoms,” including delusions, Dean said Tuesday on MSNBC. “You know, do I think he has a cocaine habit? I think it’s unlikely that you could mount a presidential campaign at 70 years old with a cocaine habit, but it was pretty striking.”

Dean even began the interview Friday by using more innuendo. He was asked about his cocaine allegation and in response referenced a series of early-morning Twitter posts by Trump.

“Donald Trump was up in the wee hours of the morning,” Dean said. “People who stay up at three and four o’clock in the morning talking about sex tapes have something wrong with them.”

Asked about Dean’s latest remarks, an adviser to Trump dismissed him altogether.

“I think Howard Dean is irrelevant in this race right now,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNN’s Carol Costello.