Gary Johnson botches question on Syria; media salivates over gaffe

While fellow presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were involved in trading barbs questioning one another’s fitness for the White House and Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, was fleeing North Dakota law enforcement officials, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson appeared Thursday morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to address a multitude of domestic and foreign policy issues.

Governor Johnson did not fare well in front of a national audience and may have given critics of third-party candidates ammunition to support their contention neither Johnson nor Stein rate as serious candidates for the Oval Office.

Asked by panel member Mike Barnicle what he would do about Aleppo, Johnson responded:  “About Aleppo. And what is Aleppo?”  A stunned Barnicle replied:  “You’re kidding?”

Barnicle proceeded to remind the former New Mexico governor Aleppo is the scene of the humanitarian and refugee crisis in the Middle East, to which Johnson replied:  “OK, got it. Got it.”

Overcoming brief embarrassment, Johnson did demonstrate a competence in his answer, declaring a diplomatic solution with the Kremlin likely could bring the crisis to an end.  Johnson also questioned nation building and the American association with the Free Syria Army, which is known to have links with Islamist militants.

Following his interview, Johnson admitted his error and said it reflected human qualities, but understood the significance of Aleppo in global politics.

He added he had initially understood Aleppo as an acronym and not the besieged Syrian city. 

In four-way national polls, Johnson is currently receiving an average of nine percent total support, compared to 41 for Clinton, two ahead of Trump at 39, and three for Stein.


[Reuters] [MSNBC] [RealClear Politics] [Photo courtesy Wall Street Journal]