Gary Johnson, former New Mexico governor and presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, revealed a surprising lack of knowledge of foreign policy on Thursday that could swing his insurgent candidacy when he could not answer a basic question about the crisis in Aleppo, Syria .
“What is Aleppo?” Mr. Johnson said when asked about MSNBC, as president, would deal with the refugee crisis in the Syrian city wartorn.
When pressed on whether he was serious, Mr. Johnson said he really was not aware of the city, which has been widely covered during the years that Syria has plunged into a civil war. After Mike Barnicle, a commentator on MSNBC, which is often part of the panel’s “Morning Joe” program, said Aleppo was the center of the refugee crisis in Syria, Mr. Johnson struggled to recover.
“Yes, got,” he said, explaining that he believes the United States must partner with Russia to improve the situation diplomatically there. “With respect to Syria, I think it’s a disaster.”
— POLITICO (@politico) September 8, 2016
The stumbling block could be a blow to the campaign of Mr. Johnson, and he is making a final effort to improve its position in the polls. Their support should reach 15 percent in a number of large national surveys to be included in the presidential debates.
supported by Mr. Johnson has been hovering around 10 percent. He and his running mate, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, have been aggressively making the case that they represent a viable alternative for voters who are unhappy with the major party candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump alternative.
Mr. Johnson and Mr. Weld are both former two-term Republican governors who are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. While libertarians are highly oriented free trade, which are often criticized for being isolationist and lack of interest in foreign policy.
Some Republican leaders who oppose Mr. Trump have openly said they are giving the Libertarian ticket a serious look. Wednesday night, Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate in 2012, publicly called Mr. Johnson and Mr. welding to be included in the presidential debates.
I hope voters get to see former GOP Governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld on the debate stages this fall.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) September 7, 2016
The setback could derail such hopes and was widely mocked on social networks.
On Twitter the question “What is Aleppo?” It was a trend, with many critics who contend that Mr. Johnson had disqualified himself from the president himself.
Anyone who saw Gary Johnson as an alternative to the nonsense that is 2016 politics just got a very rude awakening. #WhatIsAleppo
— stephen (@Dunfarr) September 8, 2016
Some even attribute the flub Mr. Johnson acknowledged use of marijuana. He is an advocate of drug legalization and he was previously the CEO of a company that markets and sells products recreational marijuana.
I’m wondering whether it was wise for Gary Johnson to stop using weed while campaigning for president #WhatIsAleppo
— Jim Aloisi (@JimAloisi) September 8, 2016
Mr. Johnson expressed disappointment over the span of a brief follow-up interview that was aired on MSNBC and canceled some of its other scheduled interviews scheduled for later in the day.
“I’m very frustrated with myself,” he said. “I have to be smarter and that’s just part of the process.”