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Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson Asks ‘What’s Aleppo?’ — and Instantly Regrets It

Geography much? Libertarian presidential hopeful Gary Johnson completely flubbed on a question about Aleppo, Syria, on Thursday, September 8.

While on MSNBC show Morning Joe, the former New Mexico governor was asked what he would do to address the Syrian refugee crisis in the war-torn city, but instead of coming back with a plan of action, Johnson, 63, instead appeared to be clueless.

“And what is Aleppo?” he asked as the roundtable of panelists stared back at him dumbstruck.

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“You’re kidding,” panelist Mike Barnicle said, clearly stunned by Johnson’s blatant lack of knowledge. He explained what and where Aleppo is, and Johnson attempted to save face.

“OK, got it,” he said, expanding his answer to a more wide focus. “With regard to Syria, I do think that it’s a mess.” Later on in the program, show host Joe Scarborough addressed Johnson’s slip one more time.

Gary Johnson
Gary Johnson

“Aleppo is the center of a lot of people’s concerns across the planet about the terrible humanitarian crisis that is unfolding not only in Syria, but especially in Aleppo,” Scarborough pressed. “You asked, ‘What is Aleppo?’ Do you really think that foreign policy is so insignificant that somebody who is running for president of the United States shouldn’t even know what Aleppo is, where Aleppo is, and why it is so important?”

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Johnson deflected the focus on his mistake and instead pointed to the United States’ involvement in other countries. “Well, no, I do understand Aleppo, and I understand the crisis that is going on,” he said. “But when we involve ourselves militarily, when we involve ourselves in these humanitarian issues, we end up with a situation that in most cases is not better. And in many cases ends up being worse.”

Later in the day, Johnson admitted to Bloomberg News’ Mark Halperin that he was “incredibly frustrated” with himself for his slip-up. “Not remembering or identifying that that’s Aleppo — guilty,” he said. “I understand the significance. Genuinely — believe me, no one is taking this more seriously than me. I feel horrible. … I have to get smarter, and that’s just part of the process.”

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In a separate interview on ABC’s The View, Johnson explained that he wasn’t trying to make any excuses about his mistake, telling the hosts, “For those who believe this is a disqualified, so be it.”

The Internet, however, did not react kindly, and the hashtag “#WhatIsAleppo” began trending shortly after Johnson’s Morning Joe appearance.

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