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Election 2016: Candidates’ Missteps and Faux Pas

Lately, it seems that all we’ve been hearing about is how much of a hot mess this year’s presidential campaign is. While some may argue against the term “hot mess,” it cannot be denied that this is a campaign full of twists, turns, ups, downs, and lots of mistakes in between. We’re giving you a quick rundown of a few of the most recent, most appalling political backfires made by this election season’s key political figures.

  1. Hillary Clinton’s “Failing Health”  

After falling into the arms of her security guards after giving a 9/11 commemoration speech, the democratic candidate was publically diagnosed with a bout of pneumonia. After temporarily leaving the event and recovering in her daughter’s apartment, Clinton emerged, stating to supporters that she felt “great.” Along the campaign trail, questions from Republicans and Democrats alike have begun to emerge the candidate’s health, citing coughing spells at rallies and other public events as signs of a larger health issue. Doctors have dispelled the rumors, but many people are suspicious of Clinton’s health history. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, only 39% of Americans believe that the former secretary of state is in good enough health to run the country, compared to 52% of Americans that were surveyed just over a week before. In the past, Clinton, 68, has been diagnosed with a variety of health issues, including fainting spells, blood clots, and bone fractures. A lot of citizens have called for the publication of Clinton’s health records in light of the recent pneumonia diagnosis.

2. Donald Trump’s Response to Hillary Clinton’s “Basket of Deplorables” Comment

Hillary Clinton recently said that she would fit roughly half of Donald Trump’s supporters in what she calls a “basket of deplorables,” which translates to racists, homophobes, and Islamophobes. While that is a political flop all on its own, and Clinton has since stated that she regrets using the number “half,” Trump’s response to this is a political faux pas for the books. While the answer itself is a well thought out, professional response, the irony behind it is the subject of countless rants on social media. In the response, Trump accused Clinton of displaying “bigotry and hatred for millions of Americans.” Trump also begged the question of Clinton, “How can she be the president of our country when she has such contempt and disdain for so many great Americans?” Coming from someone whose campaign is based on the banishment and removal of Muslims and Mexicans from America, we find this statement a little hard to believe. While Clinton probably shouldn’t have generalized a fabricated statistic against Trump’s supporters, it’s kind of hard to consider calling a group of people known for shamelessly disrespecting African Americans, LGBTQ people, disabled people, LatinX people, and other minorities by the names of their conditions “discrimination.” Of course, the statement was concluded with the most ironic statement of all, “I will be the president for all of the people, and together, we will Make America Great Again.” Like we said, the statement Trump issued is an insanely smart political move in that it pretty much prevents any and all future criticism by Clinton on the matter. That being said, we nearly LOL’ed at the idea of Donald Trump calling someone else out for bigoted behavior.

3. Gary Johnson doesn’t know what Aleppo is.

Gary Johnson is the more popular of two third party candidates receiving traction with the American public. In an interview with MSNBC, Johnson was asked what he would do about Aleppo should he be elected president. For those who don’t know what Aleppo is, this is acceptable, considering you are not running for president. But for someone who is, it’s imperative to know that Aleppo is the city that has been the center of conflict in Syria, the country where hundreds of thousands of refugees have been displaced due to a bloody revolution of the country’s previous dictator, president Bashar al-Assad. So, when asked what he would do about Aleppo in the interview, Johnson responded by asking “What is Aleppo?” After the reporter was sure Johnson was not kidding, he clarified the statement, prompting Johnson to backtrack and explain that while the refugee crisis and its source are important to national security, the larger matter at hand is wasteful government spending.


4. Obama and Drone Warfare

Okay, so Obama isn’t a potential candidate for the upcoming presidential election (it’s okay, we’re crying too) but that doesn’t mean that the president is immune to mistakes. Recently, President Obama and the Department of Defense revealed to the American public that they had been presiding over a series of drone strikes designed to take out suspected terrorists overseas. Doesn’t sound like much of a problem, does it? Well, in the past, the administration has completely denied any knowledge of the use of drone warfare in the Middle East for years. Obama gave the conservative estimate that U.S. drone strikes have resulted in about 116 civilian casualties; experts on the situation have different numbers, varying from around 200 to nearly 1200 civilian deaths. And the administration has yet to comment on strikes that have gone wrong, like one that hit a wedding party in Yemen, resulting in 12 deaths, in 2014. So while it is a good thing that the United States is finally recognizing its responsibility in the matter, there are still many questions that need to be answered.


While all of these mistakes are pretty important and may impact the direction of the election, the biggest political misstep could be made by you–that is, if you don’t vote in November. It is imperative to register to vote and/or receive your absentee ballots ASAP, and to cast your vote when it comes time to do so. Sure, the candidates may not appeal to you, but it’s better to have a say in the decision than to just sit back and let others decide for you. Your vote does matter, and you can make a difference.


Hi, I'm Alexis! I'm a senior Communications major with a journalism concentration, and I'm an editor and campus co-coordinator for our Adelphi chapter of Her Campus! After graduating, I hope to write for news organizations that cover important social and humanitarian issues in our political sphere and in the global community. Other than writing, I enjoy reading, napping, and sightseeing. One fun fact about me is that I'm left-handed, which means I'm more likely to become President! I mainly write political content relating to the most current issues facing our country and the world.
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