Gaffe Track: Trump Can't Tell Kaine From Kean

Carlo Allegri / Reuters
Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

The candidate: Donald J. … Crump? Can’t really recall.

The gaffe: During a July 27 news conference—yep, the same one where he called on Russia to release hacked U.S. government information—the Republican repeatedly referred to Tim Kaine, the U.S. senator from Virginia who is Hillary Clinton’s running mate, as a New Jerseyan.

The defense: Trump seems to have been confusing Kaine with Tom Kean, a Republican who was Garden State governor, and whose name is pronounced “cane.” No word on the whereabouts of Herman Cain.

Why it matters (or doesn’t): This is one of the more ephemeral gaffes, and pales in importance compared to his bizarre plea to Russia. (The whole press conference was weird.) Mostly, it suggests Trump either can’t or doesn’t care to master the details of politics.

The lesson: If you’re going for a Kaine break, be careful you don’t graze Kean instead.