2016 Election

The post-gaffe election

Gary Johnson Aleppo response gaffe wolf_00002803
Gary Johnson Aleppo response gaffe wolf_00002803


    Gary Johnson responds to Aleppo gaffe


Gary Johnson responds to Aleppo gaffe 01:56

Story highlights

  • On both sides of the political aisle, mistakes were made
  • Most recently, Gary Johnson couldn't say what Aleppo is, but he's not the only offender

(CNN)Monumental blunders and political gaffes just don't seem to have the same kinds of consequences this election year.

It arguably torpedoed Mitt Romney's presidential campaign when he was surreptitiously recorded claiming in 2012 that 47 percent of the nation won't support him because they want freebies from the government. But that seems downright quaint beneath the behemoth shadow of "mistakes" in 2016.
To wit: Donald Trump triumphed in the Republican primary contest despite insulting nearly every interest group in the nation. Hillary Clinton didn't skate through the Democratic primary, but she certainly benefited from Trump hoovering every ounce of media oxygen during her less-than-stellar moments on the trail, as she tried to match the excitement as a primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, who self-described as a democratic socialist while officially running as a Democrat.
    On both sides of the political aisle, mistakes were made. Stupid things were said. And yet, here we are. You'd think, given the unprecedented distrust and poor favorability voters have for both major party candidates, that the time would be ripe for a third party option.
    But this week, the Libertarian alternative blanked on a foreign policy softball and the Green Party alternative has a warrant out for her arrest. And Clinton likely regrets saying "you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables," referring to people who are racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic.
    Let us pretend for just a moment that truth really does matter and words really do have consequences (lol, I know, right?), and apply the the longstanding rules of political gaffe coverage to this bewildering and unprecedented election.
    Looking back, here are just a few of the "gaffe" moments of 2016:

    'Basket of deplorables'

    Whet your gaffetites with this mishap from Clinton Friday night. Speaking at a fundraiser that was open to the press, Clinton said, "To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it."
    Clinton then said some of these people were "irredeemable" and "not America." She went on to describe the rest of Trump supporters as people who are looking for change in any form because of economic anxiety and urged her supporters to empathize with them.
    The comments were predictably trashed on Twitter and drew comparisons to Romney's remark and President Barack Obama's "bitter" comment about Pennsylvanians in 2008.

    "What is Aleppo?"

    Gary Johnson: 'What is Aleppo?'
    Gary Johnson what is Aleppo _00002011


      Gary Johnson: 'What is Aleppo?'


    Gary Johnson: 'What is Aleppo?' 01:14
    Johnson -- a third-party nominee who has received an uncharacteristic amount of attention and scrutiny because of the main-party candidates' lack of likeability -- was asked a simple question about the humanitarian crisis facing the city of Aleppo, Syria, as a result of the nation's ongoing civil war.
    "What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo," Mike Barnicle asked Johnson on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" in September.
    "What is Aleppo?" Jonson asked, appearing genuinely curious.
    "You're kidding me," Barnicle responded.
    "No," Johnson said, looking around the room.
    "Aleppo is in Syria," Barnicle explained. "It's the epicenter of the refugee crisis."
    "OK, Got it," Johnson said. "Got it."
    Johnson later issued a statement that he was human and would continue to make mistakes, but would surround himself with qualified advisers when he's in the White House. 
    gaffes thumbnail illustration cutouts

    Insulting key states

    With the Iowa caucuses just a few months away, in October 2015, Trump insulted Hawkeye State voters by retweeting a post suggesting residents there were mentally ill. Trump tweeted, "@mygreenhippo #BenCarson is now leading in the #polls in #Iowa. Too much#Monsanto in the #corn creates issues in the brain? #Trump #GOP."
    The slight was even too much for Trump, who blamed an intern in a statement that could probably win a short-form poetry contest.
    Iowa Republican caucus-goers ultimately did reject Trump, choosing Ted Cruz instead.

    Sorry for insulting coal miners whose vote I really want

    Clinton claims she misspoke when talking about coal jobs
    Clinton claims she misspoke when talking about coal jobs


      Clinton claims she misspoke when talking about coal jobs


    Clinton claims she misspoke when talking about coal jobs 05:46
    Sometimes when you try to appeal to one voting demographic, you brutally insult another. Clinton certainly did so when discussing her energy plan at a March CNN townhall.
    "We're gonna put a lot of coal miners and a lot of coal companies out of business," she said at the time.
    The remark came back to bite her when she actually visited coal country, and was confronted by an unemployed miner about what she said.
    "I don't know how to explain it other than what I said was totally out of context for what I meant because I have been talking about helping coal country for a very long time," Clinton said during a swing in West Virginia two months after the initial remark. "It was a misstatement because what I was saying is the way things are going now, they will continue to lose jobs ... It didn't mean that we were going to do it. What I said was that is going to happen unless we take action to help and prevent it."

    Mocking the disabled

    Trump mocks reporter with disability
    Donald trump 9/11 comments supporters tuchman dnt ac_00025125


      Trump mocks reporter with disability


    Trump mocks reporter with disability 00:45
    Trump swears he did no such thing, but in November 2015 he was accused of imitating New York times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from arthrogryposis.
    "Now the poor guy, you ought to see this guy," Trump said, positioning his hands to look like a person who has the bone disease. "'Ah, I don't know what I said! I don't remember!'"
    Clinton has used this footage of this rally in her television ads, attacking Trump.

    Choking another party's candidates is funny because we disagree with their policy positions!

    Plenty of candidates in the past have been in trouble for not shaming supporters who say uncouth things during rallies. John McCain in 2008 was criticized for laughing when a supporter asked him, "How do we beat the bitch?" Trump in 2015 was castigated for not correcting a fan who said Obama was "not even an American."
    So it is fair to bring up Clinton, who in October 2015, laughed with a supporter who said he wanted to "strangle" then-Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina? "I wouldn't mess with you!" Clinton said.
    Ha! Ha! Ha! Right? (No.)

    Invoking 9/11 when attacked for ties to Wall Street

    Hillary Clinton on why she's so close to Wall Street
    Hillary Clinton on why she's so close to Wall Street


      Hillary Clinton on why she's so close to Wall Street


    Hillary Clinton on why she's so close to Wall Street 01:28
    One of Bernie Sanders' most effective attacks against Clinton was his critique that she was too cozy to Wall Street. She had to know it would come up regularly, and during a Democratic primary debate in November, she bungled her response by bringing up the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 to defend her support for bankers.
    "I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked," Clinton said. "Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy. And it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country."

    Still not a good answer

    Clinton had another opportunity to address the Wall Street issue when she sat down with CNN's Anderson Cooper in February.
    Instead of invoking the terrorist attacks, she took a flippant approach.
    When Cooper asked if she thought it was wise to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from big banks before launching her campaign, she shrugged and responded, "Well, I don't know. That's what they offered."
    Looking for a save, she added, "They're not giving me that much money now."
    Bernie Sanders Democrats were not amused.

    Attacking family of a fallen American soldier

    Fallen Muslim soldier's dad to Trump: Read Constitution
    Fallen Muslim soldier's dad to Trump: Read Constitution


      Fallen Muslim soldier's dad to Trump: Read Constitution


    Fallen Muslim soldier's dad to Trump: Read Constitution 01:52
    One of the most emotional moments of the Democratic National Convention came when the father and mother of a Muslim-American soldier confronted Trump from the podium about his rhetoric about Muslim Americans.
    "You have sacrificed nothing and no one!" the father, Khizr Khan, said about Trump.
    Trump responded by insulting the mother of the fallen soldier by insinuating that her husband didn't allow her to speak because she was a woman. And in response to the accusation that he has not sacrificed?
     "I think I've made a lot of sacrifices," Trump said. "I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I've done, I've had tremendous success."
    Instead of moving on from what was clearly a losing battle with an American Gold Star family, Trump kept up the feud for several days.

    "Look at my African-American over here!"

    When speaking at a campaign rally in California in June about race relations, Trump paused to point out that there was a black person in the audience and decided to call him out.
    "Look at my African-American over here!" Trump said. "Look at him. Are you the greatest? You know what I'm talking about?"