Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson said he is “incredibly frustrated” with himself and needs “to get smarter” after facing criticism for not knowing about Aleppo, Syria during a television interview Thursday.
“I’m incredibly frustrated with myself,” Johnson told journalist Mark Halperin after a cringeworthy interview on Morning Joe earlier in the morning.
“I have to get smarter,” Johnson said. “And that’s just part of the process.”
Asked earlier on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC “what would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?” Johnson replied: “And what is Aleppo?”
“You’re kidding?” panelist Mike Barnicle replied.
“No,” Johnson said.
Aleppo, once the largest city in Syria, has suffered significant destruction from the civil war and has resulted in the fleeing of refugees out of the country.
Speaking to Halperin after the interview, Johnson argued he knows about the Syrian crisis and area of Aleppo, but didn’t initially recognize the name.
“Knowing that there is a city between the two forces, really at the epicenter…but not remembering or identifying that’s Aleppo — guilty,” Johnson said.
“I understand the significance,” Johnson said. “Believe me, no one is taking this more seriously than me.”
Asked by Halperin if it should be considered a big flap, the former governor said: “Well sure it should. Absolutely.”
Johnson later issued a statement:
— Gov. Gary Johnson (@GovGaryJohnson) September 8, 2016
— Mark Halperin (@MarkHalperin) September 8, 2016
Several rivals dinged Johnson on Thursday. Hillary Clinton, during a press conference, quipped that “you can look on the map and find Aleppo.” Evan McMullin, an independent candidate and former CIA officer, tweeted: “If @GovGaryJohnson doesn’t know where #Aleppo is, I’ll bring a map to our debate.”
It comes as Johnson — trying to capitalize on the lack of enthusiasm for the two major party candidates — is trying to up his poll numbers so he could have a chance at making it into the general election debates.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 nominee for president, tweeted on Wednesday his desire for Johnson to be included in the debates. “I hope voters get to see former GOP Governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld on the debate stages this fall.”
I hope voters get to see former GOP Governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld on the debate stages this fall.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) September 7, 2016