NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson says he “blanked” when asked about Syria’s largest city during an interview Thursday morning.
He was asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” what he would do as president about the Syrian city at the center of the refugee crisis. In a response that quickly went viral, Johnson replied, “And what is Aleppo?”
When questioner Mike Barnicle said “You’re kidding me,” Johnson said no, he wasn’t kidding. Barnicle then began to explain. When he got to the refugee crisis, Johnson interrupted him, saying, “OK, got it.”
The former governor of New Mexico added that Syria is “a mess” and “the only way we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia to diplomatically bring that (to) an end.”
In a statement released later Thursday, Johnson said when asked about Aleppo he “immediately was thinking about an acronym, not the Syrian conflict.”
“This morning, I began my day by setting aside any doubt that I’m human. Yes, I understand the dynamics of the Syrian conflict — I talk about them every day. But hit with ‘What about Aleppo?’ I immediately was thinking about an acronym, not the Syrian conflict. I blanked. It happens, and it will happen again during the course of this campaign.
Can I name every city in Syria? No. Should I have identified Aleppo? Yes. Do I understand its significance? Yes.
As Governor, there were many things I didn’t know off the top of my head. But I succeeded by surrounding myself with the right people, getting to the bottom of important issues, and making principled decisions. It worked. That is what a President must do.
That would begin, clearly, with daily security briefings that, to me, will be fundamental to the job of being President.”
Johnson is in the midst of a media blitz in New York City as he tries to reach 15 percent in national polls. That’s the threshold needed for him to have a spot in the first presidential debate on Sept. 26.
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