Jill Stein's Travel Nightmare

Dominick Reuter / 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: Jill Stein, making her first appearance in this space. Welcome, doctor!

The gaffe: The Green Party candidate was headed to Ohio last week for a rally at Capital University. As you may know, that’s in suburban Columbus. As it turns out, Stein’s team did not, which is why they had her fly into Cincinnati, an almost-two-hour drive away. Her speech had to be delayed while the candidate drove in, as The Columbus Dispatch’s Randy Ludlow reported.

The defense: “This is what happens when people don't have private travel agents and private jets at their disposal. These are the issues that every day people face when they travel,” Stein’s press secretary wrote me in an email. That’s a pretty good line except, um, is it really true that everyday people fly into the wrong city regularly?

Why it matters (or doesn’t): This is really just a funny-haha sort of gaffe—entertaining but with no policy implications. However, an insurgent campaign like Stein’s doesn’t have much margin for error, and she’s already been hurt by peculiar comments made by her running mate and for that matter herself. There are a lot of things you can’t control in politics, but airline tickets are usually one.

The lesson: Flying economy is no excuse for being late to criticize the economy.