The election cycle of 2016 was epic — and with it came some quotes from all the candidates that had a tremendous impact on their chances at the presidency. Below are the top five quotes that helped sink — or nearly sink — some of the candidates’ chances at the White House.
1. “To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that, and he has lifted them up … he tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric.” — Hillary Clinton at an LGBT gala in September 2016
These comments defined what Mrs. Clinton truly felt about the electorate — that half of Americans were deplorable because they didn’t support her. Instead of addressing their economic concerns, or the fact that many Republicans simply disagreed with her policy stances, Mrs. Clinton reverted to name-calling — something she kept up throughout the entirety of her campaign.
Without a clear message of her own, Mrs. Clinton never tried to win over the electorate, instead she confirmed what many believed about her — that she was an elitist snob, who was out of touch with most in Middle America.
2. “I think the secretary of state is right, the American people are sick and tired about hearing about your damn emails. Enough of the emails — let’s talk about the real issues facing the American people.” — Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders at a Democratic primary debate in October 2015
By eliminating Mrs. Clinton’s emails from the conversation, Mr. Sanders essentially gave up his attack on Mrs. Clinton, and thereby didn’t look to expose one of her greatest weaknesses. It was early in the primary contest, and many Americans were greatly troubled by Mrs. Clinton’s lack of transparency and lies surrounding the set-up of her private email server. Instead of going on the offensive, Mr. Sanders gave Mrs. Clinton a free pass — something that would later haunt her in the general election.
3. “Here’s the bottom line, this notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he’s doing.” — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in a New Hampshire primary debate in February 2016
Mr. Rubio sealed his fate by repeating this talking point four times in the debate leading up to the pivotal New Hampshire primary. He sounded like a robotic, establishment politician when confronted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who called him out on his repetition. Mr. Rubio’s broken record blunder cost him the debate, and ultimately the primary, where entering it, he was leading in the polls.
Had Mr. Rubio not made the misstep and directly confronted Mr. Christie instead of reverting to his scripted lines, the primary election results could’ve been much different. Instead, Mr. Rubio placed fifth, allowing a golden opportunity to slip by.
4. “The Chinese are there” in Syria. — Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in the fourth GOP debate in November 2015
Mr. Carson was riding high in the polls — until his foreign policy muster was put under a microscope, and he made a series of high-profile blunders. After the Paris attack in December, the media and some within the conservative establishment were questioning his readiness to be commander in chief.
Along with erroneously saying the Chinese were in Syria, Mr. Carson made assertions his intelligence sources were better than the White House and in a national interview evaded a question on how he would gather an international coalition together to defeat the Islamic State. Then, in a damning interview with The New York Times, an adviser to Mr. Carson’s trashed his ability to understand the Middle East.
“Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East,” Duane R. Clarridge, a top adviser to Mr. Carson on terrorism and national security, told The Times in November. He also said Mr. Carson needed weekly conference calls briefing him on foreign policy so “we can make him smart.”
After the Paris attacks, the electorate took seriously Mr. Carson’s ineptitude on foreign policy issues, and his poll numbers sank, with him ultimately not being able to win or place high enough in any of the primary contests to sustain his campaign.
5. “Grab them by the p—-y.” — Donald Trump in a 2005 Access Hollywood recording that was released prior to the second general election debate in August
It was the blunder that many in the media and those in the political class thought sealed Mr. Trump’s defeat in the general election. The American people were able to forgive the decade-old recording — and instead clung to Mr. Trump’s populist, economic message, that directly impacted them and their lives.
Still, the release of the vulgar tape undoubtedly sent shockwaves through Mr. Trump’s campaign — Mr. Trump issued a rare apology the day after its release — and his surrogates struggled to defend him amidst a carnivorous press, which looked to exploit the tape and its contents as much as possible.