Libertarian Party candidate for President Gary Johnson is fast becoming the most mocked candidate in this Presidential debate on account of some of his mistakes during the campaign. Quite an achievement in an election featuring Donald Trump.
Johnson’s latest misstep brings back memories of the candidacies of Sarah Palin and Rick Perry for sheer idiocy.
When being interviewed on Wednesday on MSNBC, Johnson was asked the question, “Who is your favourite foreign leader?”
Johnson sighed and took a deep breath, clearly struggling to answer the question, before saying, “I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment.” This refers to Johnson’s now infamous television appearance in which he answered a question about Aleppo, the epicentre of the Syrian Civil War with, “What is a leppo?”
After putting his difficulty in answering the question down to ‘brain freeze’, Johnson then quickly stated that his favourite foreign leader was the former President of Mexico. But he still didn’t know his name. His Vice-Presidential running mate Bill Weld then had to step in and put him out of his misery with the name of Vicente Fox.
Johnson’s original ‘Aleppo moment’ suggested that he was severely lacking in basic foreign policy skills, and this latest misstep only proves it further. This won’t impress traditional Republicans amongst whom Johnson has proved relatively popular due to their concerns over Donald Trump’s foreign policy credentials. Could Johnson’s mistakes therefore prove beneficial to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy?
Johnson’s inability to remember a single world leader who he admired, brings back memories of similar mistakes during previous Presidential campaigns.
For example Sarah Palin’s (when running as John McCain’s running mate in 2008) failure to name a single newspaper or magazine that she had read, instead answering: “Um, all of ’em, any of ’em that, um, have, have been in front of me over all these years.”
Similarly, during the 2012 Republican Primary debates, Rick Perry could only remember two of the three federal government departments that he was pledging to scrap, one of his keynote policies.
So Gary Johnson’s ‘brain freeze’ is just the latest in a long line of similar moments during Presidential campaign.
Both the Palin and Perry incidents were famously satirised on Saturday Night Live, and one would expect that comedians will have similar fun at the expense of Gary Johnson over the next few weeks.
For Sarah Palin, the interview in question proved to be the spark for her loss of public support and descent into caricature, whilst for Perry it signalled the beginning of the end for his Presidential ambitions. What is interesting in the case of Johnson though, is that his poll numbers haven’t yet been hit as a result of his latest mistake. This perhaps points to the strangeness of this Presidential race. We’ve seen it time and time again with Donald Trump, candidates seem to be given far more leeway to make mistakes (unless you’re considered to be part of the Washington elite of course), and perhaps this is why Johnson is yet to haemorrhage support. Either way, this election just gets stranger and stranger.