Raising further questions about his presidential bona fides, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson failed to name a single foreign leader he admired, in what he called an “Aleppo moment” during a town hall-style interview on MSNBC Wednesday night.
When asked by host Chris Matthews to name his “favorite foreign leader,” Johnson drew a blank. “Prodded to come up with something, he finally settled on a former president of Mexico—but couldn’t recall his name,” the Associated Press reported.
Watch the exchange, also featuring Libertarian vice-presidential candidate Bill Weld (who named German Chancellor Angela Merkel as his top choice), below:
Observers said the gaffe was evidence that Johnson is unprepared to serve in the White House. “Gary Johnson can’t name a single foreign leader. Can we stop pretending he’s a real alternative now?” was the headline at Salon, while others piled on via social media:
Still, despite Johnson’s seeming lack of foreign policy knowledge, he’s drawing a significant amount of support in the 2016 election—much of it from “young Democrats and Independents who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary,” wrote ThinkProgress editor-in-chief Judd Legum last week.
As Common Dreams reported Wednesday, recent polls have shown Johnson chipping away at millennial support for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, with one pollster recently telling Vox: “The millennial vote isn’t Hillary versus [Republican nominee Donald] Trump. It’s Hillary versus Gary Johnson versus sitting on the couch on Election Day.”
“That’s nuts,” argued The Stranger‘s Dan Savage in a column on Monday:
Indeed, Legum wrote, “If you went into a lab and created a candidate who has the opposite view of corporate power as Bernie Sanders, he would look a lot like Gary Johnson.”
The New Hampshire Union Leader further reported that at Wednesday’s town hall event, Johnson vowed to cut funding to Planned Parenthood by 20 percent if elected.
“Gary Johnson’s libertarianism is very, very different from Bernie Sanders’ altruistic democratic socialism,” wrote Salon columnist Heather Digby Parton in her take-down on Thursday.
“Sanders believes that government has an affirmative duty to help people,” she continued, while
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Whether Johnson’s latest stumble will weaken his base of support remains to be seen. But as The Atlantic wrote on Thursday, “For so many voters, this election is a choice between two undesirable options. Set aside whether Clinton and Trump are equally distasteful for the moment; just recognize that Johnson has an exceptionally low bar to clear. And yet again, he has shown that he’s unable to clear it.”