Gary Johnson asks ‘What is Aleppo?’ in response to question about Syria; Politico reports campaign scrambling to minimize fallout

Politico writers Louis Nelson and Daniel Strauss reported the following today:

Asked what he would do about the Syrian city of Aleppo, the region at the center of that nation’s civil war and refugee crisis, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson responded by asking, “what is Aleppo?”

“What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” panelist Mike Barnicle asked the former New Mexico governor during an in-studio interview Thursday morning.

“And what is Aleppo?” Johnson responded.

“You’re kidding,” a stunned Barnicle replied, to which Johnson answered that he was not.

Barnicle explained to the Libertarian candidate that Aleppo is “the epicenter of the refugee crisis” in Syria, giving Johnson enough information to finally answer the question.

Read the rest of the Politico article here. 

Johnson’s gaffe is making the rounds on social media, and other mainstream media outlets have seized on his “blank out.” The campaign did its best to minimize the gaffe, and even released a statement on the incident:


Johnson’s running mate, Bill Weld, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a think thank including a roster of high-profile individuals that has advocated for a neoconservative foreign policy incompatible with Johnson’s public opposition to “regime change”. However, Weld did not give speeches at the last two Johnson campaign rallies (in Milwaukee and Des Moines, respectively). Johnson had previously named the former Massachusetts governor as his “co-president.” said that Johnson “seems to have missed the last five years of U.S. foreign policy.”


4 responses to “Gary Johnson asks ‘What is Aleppo?’ in response to question about Syria; Politico reports campaign scrambling to minimize fallout

  1. It is unsettling to see Gary Johnson self-destructing on so many fronts. It seems like it all started with the CFR coup of injecting Bill Weld into the VP spot. Is there something wrong that we don’t know about? This is not the same Gary Johnson who was very solid and sharp a few years ago.


    • Al, Johnson didn’t at least seem this bad last time around – I wouldn’t say he was solid, but he was tolerable and more likable. He actually tried to appeal to the Ron Paul supporters in 2012. I convinced my mom to vote for Johnson at the time since I was 16, but in hindsight I would not have made the same decision.


  2. Krzysztof, I can assure you that in 2012 Gary Johnson was solid enough on the issues and politically sharp enough to be a good candidate. We agreed on about 85% of all issues, which I find an acceptable level. He listened to good advice. Twice when he was editing his speeches on his tablet (or whatever it was) while we were chatting before his turn at the podium, he made significant changes based on my assessment of what would be important for those particular audiences to hear. Most politicians have egos too big to do that, but Gary was sincere and objective, similar to Ron Paul
    But now I am bewildered. I voted for Gary last time, and was hoping to do so again. What happened?? As soon as CFR stooge William Weld was injected into the scene, everything started downhill. Gary started echoing non-libertarian positions, and now I would estimate that we only agree on at most 60% on the issues. That is not acceptable to me, so I bailed out of the effort to get him on the Marxachusetts ballot, much to the chagrin of my Libertarian colleagues who think that we must support “our candidate”. I might still have considered voting for him, but there is no way I would ever vote for Weld.
    As I said, Gary would listen to good advice, but maybe now the problem is that he is listening to bad advice. Or maybe he is abandoning principle in a ruse to appear more centrist and raise more funds to help pay off his 2012 campaign debts. I know he denies this, but building a big financial following this time can still be the tool for separately raising debt-reducing funds in a later effort.
    Now comes “Aleppo”, following compulsory wedding cakes, mandatory vaccinations, TPP support, illegal aliens, and who knows what else. I sense the influence of Weld’s CFR bosses here, but I really start to wonder if there is something else wrong with him. This is not the same Gary Johnson that I knew last time. Alas!
    BTW, I will be voting for Darrell Castle by write-in. He is clearly the most libertarian candidate this time, followed in second place by Jim Hedges. Gary Johnson no longer even ranks third.


    • Interesting analysis, Al. I would agree that Castle is the most libertarian candidate, and I hope he can be the CP’s first to break 200,000 votes, though it is extremely unlikely. Hedges is certainly a very interesting figure.

      I am not an LP member and have never been, but I would like to see Tom Woods as the LP’s 2020 presidential candidate. I think his libertarian credentials are unassailable. I met him at the 2013 LP Illinois convention and got two of his book autographed. The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History remains one of my favorite English language books that I have read.

      I’ve heard that Johnson may run in 2020 – in that case, I would hope the LP convention delegates will be offered some very serious alternatives. Neither Petersen nor McAfee were able to provide very serious opposition and I feel Johnson won by default.


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