Politics & Government

‘I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment’ – Gary Johnson can’t name a single world leader

Gary Johnson, 2016 Libertarian presidential nominee, stumbled Wednesday night when asked to name his favorite world leader. Unable to come up with a name, he suggested he was having an “Aleppo moment,” referring to an earlier gaffe in which he could not place the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Gary Johnson, 2016 Libertarian presidential nominee, stumbled Wednesday night when asked to name his favorite world leader. Unable to come up with a name, he suggested he was having an “Aleppo moment,” referring to an earlier gaffe in which he could not place the Syrian city of Aleppo. Bloomberg, file

Once again, Gary Johnson has drawn a blank.

Appearing on MSNBC on Wednesday night, Johnson, the Libertarian nominee for president, was repeatedly pressed by “Hardball” host Chris Matthews to name his favorite foreign leader, but couldn’t cough up a name.

“I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment,” Johnson said, a nod to his notorious space-out when he appeared unfamiliar with the war-torn Syrian city.

Johnson said he was grasping for the name of the former president of Mexico but was “having a brain freeze.”

After a helpful hint from his vice presidential pick, Bill Weld – once nominated to be ambassador to Mexico – Johnson clarified who he was thinking of: Vicente Fox, Mexico’s president from 2000 to 2006.

The pair were appearing at a town hall at the University of New Hampshire, in front of an audience of younger voters with whom the third-party ticket is garnering significant support. Johnson and Weld have drawn enough millennial support to make Democrats nervous, with President Barack Obama explicitly stating Wednesday that a third-party vote is “a vote for Trump.”

Johnson and Weld – former GOP governors of New Mexico and Massachusetts, respectively – differed on which of their two main opponents worried them most when it comes to national security.

Weld said he was most concerned with Donald Trump having access to the nuclear codes, saying he would not trust the GOP nominee to make the high-pressure decision on how to fend off an incoming attack.

“Hillary Clinton is clearly qualified to be commander in chief and president of the United States,” Weld said. “Donald Trump is clearly not qualified, and I’d encourage him, almost with affection, to think of some other job or profession he’d like. I’ve suggested the laundry business.”

But Johnson disagreed, saying he feared Clinton would be too hawkish.

“She’s going to press the button,” Johnson said, adding he believed she would more likely pick an aggressive response to provocation than Trump. Libertarians are typically non-interventionist on foreign affairs, although Johnson blanched at Matthews’ description of his views as “dovish.”

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