The 2016 presidential election is in the books for better or worse. And what a ridiculous campaign it has been. Historians are already looking back and cringing at Clinton-Trump 2016, with just about everyone agreeing the campaign took politics to new low after new low – with seemingly no bottom. And while most of the wackiness came from (now president elect) Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton had a few bad moments herself along the way. As we all come to terms with what happened over the past year, and try to figure out where we go from here, we take a moment to reflect on the 10 worst moments from the 2016 presidential campaign.
Other than the American electorate, did anyone take more of a beating in the 2016 presidential election than the good people of Mexico? From the proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and then bill the Mexican government for the cost to Trump referring to Mexican immigrants as “murderers and rapists,” Trump seemed to feel that beating up on Mexico appealed to his base of supporters. And he kept beating that drum throughout the election. There was also the embarrassing visit Trump paid to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to supposedly discuss the wall between the two countries that saw the Donald return to the U.S. a few hours later and declare that the wall with Mexico would go up immediately after he was elected. Oh, and let’s not forget Justice Gonzalo Curiel, who Donald Trump said was unfit to preside over a lawsuit involving Trump University because he’s Mexican. Sheesh.
Compared to Trump, Hillary Clinton ran a pretty tame campaign. However, despite her best efforts, the former First Lady had a few missteps along the way. One of her biggest was calling people who support Trump “a basket of deplorables” who were racist, sexist, Islamophobic, and/or xenophobic. This only served to alienate white voters more from the Clinton campaign and gave Trump a platform from which to hammer Clinton for being elitist and ineffective. The flak that Clinton took over these comments was so bad for a few days that her camp was forced to come out and apologize. Or at least acknowledge that you can’t paint all Trump supporters with the same brush. It was a not so good moment for the Clinton campaign that underscored the rift in the electorate.
8. Generals and POWs
The military traditionally vote Republican. Soldiers and their Generals tend to be a pretty conservative group. So it was astonishing during the election to watch Donald Trump alienate just about every quarter of the U.S. military. When Trump wasn’t telling the media that he knows more about ISIS and Islamic terrorists than the top U.S. Generals at the Pentagon, he was mocking former Prisoner of War and current Senator John McCain for getting captured, held, and tortured during the Vietnam War. Trump further alienated military personnel and national security advisers by constantly threatening to nuke America’s enemies and even some of its allies such as South Korea. The whole thing got so bad during the campaign that 15 U.S. Generals, Admirals, and national security experts came out against Trump and said publicly that they were endorsing Hillary Clinton. The press conference staged by these military and security leaders was truly cringe inducing.
Claims throughout the election campaign that Trump is a “blue collar billionaire” always rang hollow, and the Clinton team did their best throughout the election cycle to hammer away at Trump for not disclosing his tax return for 2015. After all, Donald Trump was the first presidential candidate in U.S. history not to make his income and the taxes he paid public. Hillary Clinton’s tax return showed she earned more than $10 million in 2015. What did Trump earn? Turns out we’ll never know, as Donald Trump has allegedly avoided paying any personal income tax in 18 years. When confronted with this accusation during a presidential debate, Trump said he was “smart” to avoid paying taxes, and added that if Hillary Clinton didn’t like it that she should “change the rules.” So the man who promised to shake up the fat cats in Washington doesn’t pay taxes himself. Oh the hypocrisy!
6. Bad Catchphrases and Slips of the Tongue
From Hillary Clinton’s infamous phrase “Trumped up trickledown economics,” to Donald Trump referring to 9/11 as “7/11,” the 2016 presidential campaign was full of truly awful catchphrases and slips of the tongue. There was also the terrible moment when Clinton said, when being interviewed in front of a primarily black audience, that she always kept a bottle of hot sauce in her purse. Or Trump saying to a reporter that “I just know that I’m weak—-uh, that I’m winning by a lot.” Most of these slips ups and terrible phrases would sink ordinary political candidates, but they barely registered in an election campaign where so many awful things were being said that referring to 9/11 as “7/11” barely made a dent. Most media outlets only mentioned the slip ups in passing. And the whole hot sauce remark didn’t even count as a controversy.
5. The Bill Clinton Accusers
One of the lowest low points in the election campaign had to be when Trump paraded the Bill Clinton sexual assault accusers in front of the media ahead of a nationally televised presidential debate. Having failed to detract sufficiently from allegations of his own sexual assault, Trump tried to throw mud at the Clinton camp ahead of the second Presidential debate.
Mere minutes before the debate was to start, Trump presented three women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault, as well as a rape victim whose attacker was defended by Hillary Clinton back when she was a public defender. Trump even went so far as to try and get the Bill Clinton accusers into the VIP box so they could confront Bill in-person. Luckily, officials intervened and the media largely ignored this stunt. But it was nevertheless a pretty sad situation for everyone involved. The Clinton campaign responded by accusing Trump of “continuing a destructive race to the bottom.” No argument there.
4. Twitter Wars
Hillary Clinton may have had issues with e-mails during the election campaign, but they paled in comparison to Donald Trump on Twitter. The only thing Trump seemed to enjoy more than taking people on in front of television cameras was to enter into a Twitter war with them. Time and again, Trump took to Twitter to attack people, take credit for being right about some issue, or generally insult the American voters. Of course, the worst of the Twitter wars occurred when Trump took on Alicia Machado, who worked for The Donald when she won Miss Universe in 1996. Trump recalled, via Twitter, how he called Machado “fat, ugly and ‘Miss Housekeeping’ because she is from Venezuela.” The former Playboy model, who urged voters to back Clinton, didn’t back down and took on Trump via Twitter, telling people how, when she put on weight, Trump forced her to go the gym in front of cameras. Trump said in response that Machado was the “worst” Miss Universe he ever had. Ah, Twitter.
3. Mocking Handicapped People
Serge Kovaleski is a journalist who was born with a chronic condition that affects his movement. Trump tried to claim at one of his rallies that thousands of Muslim Americans celebrated the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New Jersey by holding parties. Trump referred to a 2001 article written by Kovaleski to back him up. But when Kovaleski said he didn’t recall that detail, Donald Trump went on the attack and performed an impression of the disabled reporter at a rally that mocked him and other people who struggle with movement. Waving his arms around, Trump said: “Now the poor guy, you gotta see this guy. Uh, I don’t know what I said. Uh, I don’t remember. He’s going like ‘I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said.’” A sad state of affairs, indeed.
2. The Muslim War Veteran
Probably the most difficult thing to witness during the 2016 election was Trump attacking the grieving parents of an American war hero. Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son (Army Capt. Humayun Khan) died fighting in Iraq for the U.S. military, were forced to defend their son, their faith, and their patriotism after Trump attacked their son for being a Muslim. Fortunately, the Khan’s fought back and spoke out against Trump at the Democratic National Convention, blasting Trump’s rhetoric on Muslims and immigrants. Trump responded by calling Mr. Khan “very emotional” and hinted that his wife had not been permitted to say anything alongside him at the convention because of their religion. Taking the high road as usual…
1. Locker Room Talk
The worst moment in an election campaign full of terrible moments had to be the Access Hollywood interview that surfaced, wherein Trump is heard telling interviewer Billy Bush in a film clip from 2005 “ You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.”
This, along with Trump’s earlier comments referring to women as “piggies” and criticizing some for being “fat slobs,” seemed to sink the 2016 presidential election to a low we’ve never seen before. Add to this the fact that a slew of women have since come forward to accuse Donald Trump of kissing, groping, or making unwanted advances on them without consent and you have, literally, the worst election in U.S. history. Good riddance!