When Gary Johnson booked Morning Joe and The View back-to-back, he didn’t know he was going to be reeling from the hardest day of his campaign before 7:30 a.m. But there he was, uttering the words “What is Aleppo?” on MSNBC, and potentially dashing any hopes he had left for making the mainstage debates with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
By the time the Libertarian presidential candidate made it to The View a few hours later, there was nothing he could do to explain away what co-host Joy Behar referred to as a “disqualifying” gaffe.
“Did you have a brain freeze moment or was it that the phrase Aleppo threw you?” moderator Whoopi Goldberg asked when Johnson emerged from backstage.
Johnson said there was “no excuse” for his embarrassing moment, echoing a statement he gave to The Daily Beast in which he said he was thinking of Aleppo as an acronym. The former New Mexico governor then proceeded to deliver a description of the “dynamics in play in Syria” that was at least somewhat more coherent than anything he said on Morning Joe.
Unlike Candace Cameron-Bure, who said in the show’s opening segment that the question was a “gotcha” from Morning Joe’s Mike Barnicle, Johnson confirmed that he believes it was “fair game.” He added, “Hey, it’s how you deal with adversity that ultimately determines success,” before Jedediah Bila thanked him for showing that he’s “human” by saying “I don’t know.”
When it was Behar’s turn to speak, she told Johnson, “I know what Aleppo is and I should not be any smarter than you, because you’re running for president.” Even though she said she’s “sure Trump doesn’t know what Aleppo is either,” Behar added, “I think it’s a disqualifying statement, frankly.”
“Fair enough,” Johnson replied. But when Behar shook his hand and asked if that means he will get out of the race now, the candidate just laughed and said no.
As much as Johnson tried to steer the conversation away from all things Aleppo, they kept returning to it. Eventually, he was asked point blank if this is the end of his campaign. “Can you recover?” Cameron-Bure inquired.
“Gosh, I guess people will have to make that judgment,” Johnson said with a sigh. “But I will say that it is a process and I respect the process and for those that believe this is a disqualifier, so be it. But I’ve been really well served in my life by always telling the truth. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. And I think the one unforgivable thing in life is hypocrisy, saying one thing and doing another.”
Finally, Behar asked Johnson the question that has been posed to a lot of third-party evangelists over these past few months. Gun to his head, would he vote for Clinton or Trump? “I’d let it go off,” he said without hesitation.