It’s been the kind of election year in which each day of the news cycle condenses every single gaffe and outrage of entire elections in the past. It’s hard to remember that even a few months ago, the likes of Mike Huckabee and Carly Fiorina were making viewers tremble in fear. As another round of primaries comes to a close, bringing a genuine fascist-style demagogue one step closer to the presidency — and violence continues to break out at his rallies — it seemed like the right moment to take a step back and remember all the times we cringed in fear and worry, in the hopes that we can gain a little catharsis and steel ourselves for the months and weeks ahead.
Here, then, are the most offensive, outrageous, bizarre, hurtful, cruel, insensitive and genuinely terrifying GOP moments of the election thus far. There will probably be new additions to this list by the end of the week.
Mike Huckabee threatens to use troops to stop abortions
There’s been so much crazy in this election already that it’s easy to forget there was a time when it also involved perennial (and interchangeable) Republican chancers Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. As ever, these two evangelical poster boys spent the first couple of months of the primary campaign trying to outdo one another in terms of risible Christian populism; this round, Huckabee was the clear winner, by virtue of his suggestion that he might use the FBI and/or federal troops to stop doctors from carrying out abortion procedures. — Tom Hawking
Ted Cruz’s homophobic pastor
Neither Huckabee nor Santorum can compare to Kevin Swanson, though. This extreme conservative pastor has made a career out of violent homophobia (his Grindr page will doubtless be uncovered sooner or later) and outdid himself while introducing Ted Cruz to the audience of something called the National Religious Liberties Conference last November. His words, not mine: “Yes, [in] Romans 1:32 the Apostle Paul does says that homosexuals are worthy of death. His words, not mine! … Now, my friends, let me introduce to you the next candidate for the office of President of the United States. Folks, please make welcome Senator Ted Cruz.” — TH
Ted Cruz’s other pastor pal loves the Jews — once they accept Jesus
Despite calls from many Jewish groups to distance himself from Mike Bickle’s pronouncement that God will send “hunters” like Hitler to convert the Jews to Christianity via violence, Ted Cruz swore up and down that he loved the guy. He used the criticism to reiterate his “pro-Israel views,” but how pro-Israel is it to essentially want the state to be the site of a mass conversion to Christianity? — Sarah Seltzer
Donald Trump calls Mexican immigrants “rapists” in his presidential announcement speech
There’s no more Trumpian way of throwing your hat in the ring than saying, “they’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” This racist claptrap, quickly debunked by experts and actual facts, infuriated many — but few knew exactly how far this kind of fear-mongering would take him. This one isn’t funny, it’s just sad. — SS
Donald Trump calls for a ban on Muslims entering the US
Everyone has their own moment when they stopped seeing the Donald Trump campaign as a mildly amusing sideshow and started finding it terrifying. For some of us, it was the aforementioned immigrants-are-rapists speech, but for much of America, it was December 8, 2015: the day Trump called for a complete ban on Muslims entering the country. (For good measure, he justified this proposal by comparing it to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, as if that were a great idea and not a gross violation of human rights of which America should still be ashamed.) Of course, the idea of American Muslims as some kind of fifth column for ISIS is not remotely reflected in reality, but as Trump has demonstrated time and again over the course of this campaign, neither facts nor reality are of much concern to him or his supporters. — TH
is may or may not have a massive dick
Spy magazine might not have had the staying power of its spiritual forebear, the UK’s Private Eye, but it did contribute to posterity Graydon Carter’s description of Donald Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian.” Trump himself has long since ceased to be amusing, but the description remains both funny and wickedly accurate, as his ongoing sensitivity to it demonstrates. “Are these small hands?” he asked during one of the umpteen Republican debates, before going on to proclaim that the size of his hands reflected the size of his dick. Those of us who read The Onion, of course, have known this for years. — TH
Ted Cruz advocates carpet-bombing ISIS
The US has never been averse to committing war crimes, but still, it’s startling to hear a presidential candidate openly advocate doing so. Such concerns clearly don’t bother Ted Cruz, though! Several times during this campaign, he’s advocated “carpet bombing” ISIS-held territory, despite the fact that doing so would be a) illegal; b) morally reprehensible; and c) largely useless. (Depending on what you make of claims about his citizenship, all three descriptions could also apply to a Cruz presidency.) — TH
Ben Carson ponders the Pyramids
Ben Carson has thoughts! Not many of them, admittedly, but some! One of them is his “theory” that the Pyramids were built as grain silos. If you’ve ever been inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, you’ll know that its interior consists of two smallish rooms, a sort of obstacle course-like climb to get to those rooms, and a whole lot of stone. It would, in other words, make for a terrible grain silo. Such facts (and, y’know, facts in general) are of no concern to Ben Carson, though, who would have made for a terrible president (and yet, perhaps not as terrible as the one we might end up with). — TH
Jeb Bush claims his brother “kept us safe”
As multiple people pointed out on Twitter at the time, this is a photo of George W. Bush literally standing on the dead bodies of people that he and his administration did not “keep safe.” At all. Of course, if George W. Bush had actually read his daily briefings, we might not be having this conversation. But he didn’t, and we are. Sorry, Jeb! — TH
Donald Trump gets crass with Megyn Kelly
Megyn Kelly is no heroine, but she was a victim of one of Trump’s lowest attacks, when he met her intense debate questioning with a very sexist jibe. The irony was that he got mad at her for calling out his sexism: “You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals,” she noted, following up with, “Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?” Trump’s response the next day: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” But it wasn’t a joke about her period, he swore. — SS
Ben Carson calls Hamas “hummus”
The Republicans make an annual effort to win a piddling amount of the reliably liberal Jewish vote. Sometimes it looks like they might peel off a few, but their collective attempts this year were possibly their most bumbling, troublesome, and just plain weird. Take Ben Carson’s repeated pronunciation of “Hamas,” the terrorist group, as though it were hummus, the delicious chickpea treat.
Donald Trump compares Ben Carson to a child molester
Game recognize game. — TH
Ben Carson describes knifing a guy that one time
Only during Election 2016 would we see a headline that read, “Ben Carson’s Stabbing Story Is Full of Holes.” So what was the story, which circulated during the brief period when Carson was doing well in the polls? A “volatile” teenage Carson tried to stab a classmate, but was saved from ignominy by a handy belt buckle, which led to his finding God. Unfortunately, the story began shifting during the campaign, making Carson seem more like an aggressor and less like a scared, angry teen. — SS
Carly Fiorina’s Planned Parenthood lies
Feminists were supposed to love Carly Fiorina. Unfortunately, she was no friend to women; during an early debate she stood up and told a huge whopper about a Planned Parenthood video, graphically describing a dismembered fetus, despite no such thing featuring in the video on question. Dahlia Lithwick’s reaction was my favorite:
The enormity of the fabrication surprised me; …. The fact that contemporaneous mainstream media reports of the debate—more theater criticism than journalism—failed to fact-check it surprised me. The people who did fact-check it all immediately agreed that itwasn’t true, and yet Fiorina’s word-picture was touted for days as the emotional zenith of the debate. This all surprised me: the notion that journalism and fact-finding are demonstrably unrelated enterprises. I’m a chump that way.
Fortunately, Fiorina was soon sent packing by voters. Unfortunately, this kind of lying about Planned Parenthood continually leads to clinic violence and threats. — SS
Ted Cruz decries “New York values”
Cruz’s favorite attack on Trump for a while revolved around the candidate’s “New York values,” in an attempt to tar The Donald by associating him with the gays, the Jews, the people of color, and the “media elite” (see again: the Jews). This line of attack peaked during a winter debate. Not only was it an abhorrent comment and an old-school anti-Semitic dog whistle, but it did something even worse: made us nod our heads as Trump defended NYC. It also prompted a memorable Daily News retort:
Jeb Bush buys a gun
Jeb!’s Twitter was, of course, the gift that kept on giving. In particular, we’ll never forget this parting, ahem, shot. — TH
Chris Christie sells his soul, endorses Trump
In what became one of the election’s most memorable memes, Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump after dropping out himself, then stood behind The Donald looking like a Death Eater standing behind Voldemort and seriously regretting his decision.
Donald Trump advocates punching protesters
After a rally last month in Las Vegas was disrupted by protests, legitimate presidential candidate Donald Trump reminisced fondly about the old days, when such nonsense wouldn’t be tolerated: “I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate? There’s a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches. We’re not allowed to punch back anymore… I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.” To the surprise of absolutely no one, violence at Trump rallies has escalated since, culminating in a geriatric Willie Nelson lookalike throwing a sucker punch at a black protester last week. — TH
It’s been great, right? Only another eight months to go! — TH