The Lid: Gary Johnson’s ‘Oops’ Moment

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos… Fiery New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reportedly had to tell retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to calm down during Trump’s intelligence briefing …. Which is sort of like having Kanye West tell you that you might be getting a bit too big for your britches.

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‘16 from 30,000

If you ascribe to the Trumpian axiom that “all press is good press,” then it’s a banner day for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson. Johnson is the butt of a barrage of jokes this afternoon after asking a host on MSNBC’s Morning Joe “What is Aleppo?” For Johnson, a third-party candidate desperate for a polling boost that would allow him to qualify for the presidential debates, it was a damning admission of a lack of knowledge about the Syrian conflict and the victims ravaged by its chaos.

On the plus side, Johnson made his apology for the “oops” moment as relatable as any political mea culpa we can remember, saying, “I’m incredibly frustrated with myself. I have to get smarter.” And he took full responsibility for the error, saying in a follow-up interview, “For those who believe this is a disqualifier, so be it.”

But the bad news: The flub came at an awful moment for Johnson. Just yesterday, former GOP nominee Mitt Romney tweeted words of support for Johnson and his vice presidential pick, Bill Weld, saying that he hopes they will be included in the debates. And it comes at a time that could have been ripe for Johnson to strike, with both major candidates smarting from uneven performances in last night’s Commander-in-Chief debate. On a day when Johnson could have looked like an appealing alternative choice, he instead looked unprepared, confused, and - for better or for worse, in the cardinal sin of politicians - unable to at least bluster his way out of the mistake. For folks looking for a third party candidate who combines each major candidate’s strength without the baggage, Johnson likely lost a significant chunk of his case to make.



"What is Aleppo?"

  • Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson on “Morning Joe.”


Donald Trump addresses the Value Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., before heading to Florida for a rally.

Tim Kaine campaign in Virginia and Bill Clinton holds an event in Pittsburgh, PA.