For Gary Johnson, ignorance is not only bliss — it might also be a strength of his as commander in chief, the Libertarian presidential nominee said Tuesday.
“The fact that somebody can dot the i’s and cross the t’s on a foreign leader or a geographic location then allows them to put our military in harm’s way,” Johnson said in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
The former New Mexico governor’s comments were in response to a question about his inability to name a single foreign leader he admires during a recent MSNBC town hall — a gaffe Johnson himself described as “another Aleppo moment.” That was a reference to yet another MSNBC gaffe: his unfamiliarity with the war-torn Syrian city in a “Morning Joe” interview in early September.
“You got to do this,” Chris Matthews said to Johnson at the town hall. “Anywhere. Any continent. Canada, Mexico, Europe, over there, Asia, South America, Africa. Name a foreign leader that you respect.”
“I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment,” Johnson said.
“But I’m giving you the whole world,” Matthews replied. “Anybody in the world you like. Anybody. Pick any leader.”
“The former president of Mexico,” Johnson said
“Which one?” Matthews asked.
“I’m having a brain freeze,” Johnson said before his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, saved him by suggesting he was thinking of former Mexican President Vicente Fox.
On Tuesday, Johnson defended his struggle to name a foreign leader he admired.
“Talking about a foreign leader that you respect, that you admire — I have a hard time with that one,” he told Mitchell. “That’s politics. That’s just who I am. So now I’m going to have to pick out a world leader — and there’s going to be something that’s wrong with them, and I’m going to have to defend them? Well, maybe I think too much.”
When Mitchell pointed out that “foreign policy and unexpected events are part of the portfolio” when running for president, Johnson tried to pivot.
“We put our military in this horrible situation where we go in and support regime change and get involved in civil wars where hundreds of thousands of innocent people are in a crossfire,” he said. “We’re literally shooting at both sides.”
Recent polls show Johnson receiving anywhere from 5 percent to 9 percent support nationally, stoking fears within Hillary Clinton’s campaign that some backers of her former Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders, may swing toward the third-party candidate.
The Vermont senator, though, said those who are considering voting for Johnson should look long and hard at the Libertarian nominee’s policies.
“Look at his point of view on issues like the environment, on climate change, on the economy,” Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “If any of the people who voted for me take a hard look at what he stands for, I think — and understand where he’s coming from — they will not be supporting him.”