Former president Donald Trump has made a rare public appearance with his first speech in months addressing US politics.
However there was one curious detail that detracted from his address to a sold-out crowd of about 1,250 people on Sunday (local time).
Trump told the crowd next year's midterm elections would be a battle for the "survival of America" and lapped up applause from Republican supporters as he described the US as "being destroyed before our very own eyes" since he was voted out.
He also described 2024, the year of the next presidential election, as "a year that I look very much forward to".
While the 74-year-old's speech appeared to lack much of the raw energy and enthusiasm he often brought to his raucous, larger campaign rallies, bizarre theories started circulating online about his pants, with some suggesting he had them on backwards.
"Donald Trump gave his big speech today with his pants on backwards. Look close and tell me I'm wrong," New York Daily News columnist Brandon Friedman tweeted.
He wasn't the only one, with social media lighting up with people wondering what was going on with Trump's pants and debating whether he was wearing them backwards.
Actor Ken Olin, however, offered up a different theory.
"I don't think the no-fly zone is a case of Trump putting his pants on backwards," he tweeted.
"I think he wears modified suit pants with an elastic waistband and no fly to fit over an adult diaper.
Others on Twitter were equally stumped by the way the pants wrinkled and what appeared to be a lack of fly.
"Just incredible that at no point did he go, 'huh something’s a little off here' as he zipped himself up on the ass," comedian James Felton said.
"The wrinkles are definitely those made on the back side of the leg when you sit down, not the front," another claimed.
Social media speculation debunked
While unchecked speculation was rife on social media, many people claimed suggestions the former president's pants were on backwards were fake.
Fact-checking website Snopes.com also debunked the theory, sharing clearer images that showed there was a fly on the front of his pants.
"Thousands of anti-Trump people are tweeting a false claim about the former president’s pants. Great work, excellent use of time," tweeted CNN's fact-checker Daniel Dale.
Trump calls for China to pay over Covid pandemic
During Trump's speech in Greenville, in the US state of North Carolina, he launched a verbal attack against his favourite targets, including China and its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Trump called on China to pay $10 trillion in reparations to the United States and the world for its own handling of the virus, and said nations should cancel their debt to Beijing.
"The time has come for America and the world to demand reparations and accountability from the Communist Party of China... All nations should work together to present China a bill for a minimum of 10 trillion dollars to compensate for the damage they've caused," Trump said to applause.
“We had this horrible thing come in from China, we got that one right too by the way, do you notice, you see what’s going on, it’s called the lab, that was an easy one, Wuhan," he said.
Trump joined a chorus of Republican politicians who are criticising US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci for asking Americans to wear masks to guard against the virus, and who at times has been skeptical of a theory that the virus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
Trump called Fauci "not a great doctor but a great promoter" for his frequent television appearances.
"But he's been wrong on almost every issue and he was wrong on Wuhan and the lab also," Trump said.
The origin of the virus remains hotly contested and remains under study by US intelligence agencies.
with Reuters and AFP
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