During an appearance on MSNBC‘s Morning Joe Wednesday, Gary Johnson was asked what he would do about Aleppo, the city in Syria that has become the one of the centers of the Syrian civil war. “What is Aleppo?” Johnson asked.
The response stunned Mike Barnicle, who quickly replied, “You’re kidding me.”
After Barnicle quickly explained what Aleppo is, Johnson said, “OK, got it, got it.”
“With regard to Syria I do think it’s a mess,” Johnson added. “I think that the only way that we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia to diplomatically bring that at an end. It’s just a mess.”
The Johnson campaign issued a statement to the Daily Beast, saying that he was “thinking about an acronym, not the Syrian conflict.
Johnson further explained:
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.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims that 696 civilians have died in areas around Aleppo just since July, including 160 children and 84 civilian women.
Johnson is the Libertarian candidate for president and the former governor of New Mexico. His running mate is former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld. A recent Pew poll found that Johnson has the support of 10 percent of registered voters, The New York Times reports. Johnson received almost 1 percent of the popular vote in the 2012 presidential election.
When asked if the U.S. should accept refugees from Syria, Johnson told ISideWith.com in March, “Yes, but only after extensive background checks and continuous monitoring to ensure they have no terrorist connections.”