WASHINGTON – Call it a brain freeze, another “Aleppo moment,” or a mere campaign stumble, but Gary Johnson has stumbled again in his quixotic presidential campaign.
The third-party candidate, in a television appearance Wednesday, was unable to produce the name of a single foreign leader he respected. Prodded to come up with something, he finally settled on a former president of Mexico – but couldn’t recall his name.
“I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment,” Johnson said, trying to turn the moment into a bit of self-deprecating humour. Earlier this month, Johnson was ridiculed after being quizzed about the besieged city that has become a focal point of Syria’s civil war and coming up blank.
WATCH: Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson: ‘What is Aleppo?’
Johnson’s latest misstep played out during an extraordinary and awkward 50 seconds of live television on MSNBC, where Johnson and running mate William Weld were appearing in a town hall. Host Chris Matthews ticked through a list of regions, hoping to jog the Libertarian Party candidate’s memories, but to no avail.
“You’ve got to do this,” Matthews said. “Anywhere, any continent: Canada, Mexico, Europe, over there, Asia, South America, Africa. Name a foreign leader that you respect.”
Johnson hung his head slightly – “I’m having a brain freeze” – before Weld came to his rescue, offering the names of three former Mexican presidents. Johnson settled quickly on Vicente Fox, calling him “terrific” before Weld named his own favourite foreign leader: German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Johnson’s candidacy has attracted interest from members of both major parties who say they’re dismayed about their choices this year of Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton. Still, Johnson has been polling in the single digits – most voters say they don’t know who he is – and his struggles on foreign policy haven’t helped his image.