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Why Donald Trump's 'Kansas' mistake absolutely matters

CNN's John Avlon points out why President Donald Trump's tweet congratulating the wrong state on the Super Bowl LIV win is funny, but troubling, saying "you would expect the president to know" that Kansas City is in Missouri.

Posted: Feb 3, 2020 12:20 PM
Updated: Feb 3, 2020 12:20 PM

Soon after the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl on Sunday night, the President of the United States tweeted this:

"Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs on a great game, and a fantastic comeback, under immense pressure. You represented the Great State of Kansas and, in fact, the entire USA, so very well. Our Country is PROUD OF YOU!"

The problem, of course, is that the Chiefs play in Kansas City, MISSOURI not Kansas City, KANSAS. The initial Trump tweet was deleted and replaced by one with the right state affiliation.

This shouldn't be that big a deal. Yes, there's no question that Trump should have known the Chiefs play in Missouri not Kansas. And yes, someone in the White House should have looked at the tweet before it posted so that mistake could have been caught.

But presidents -- and presidential candidates -- occasionally make these mistakes. Everyone remembers that in May 2008 then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama said this: "It is wonderful to be back in Oregon. Over the last 15 months, we've traveled to every corner of the United States. I've now been in 57 states."

So, it happens. But here's why Trump doesn't get a pass. Because he and his administration have made a HUGE point of picking out the slip-ups of past politicians and questioning people over their supposed lack of knowledge of geography.

In 2018, Trump actually tweeted about the "57 states" flub. "When President Obama said that he has been to '57 States,' very little mention in Fake News Media,' wrote Trump. "Can you imagine if I said that...story of the year!"

Before that, he made questioning Hillary Clinton's mental fitness a regular part of his stump speech on the 2016 campaign trail.

"I think the people of this country don't want somebody that's going to short-circuit up here," Trump said at an August 2016 rally in New Hampshire while pointing to his head. "Not as your president, not as your president." He added: "Honestly I don't think she's all there."

Trump has adopted a similar tactic toward former vice president Joe Biden in the 2020 campaign. At a campaign rally in November 2019, Trump said this of Biden:

"They have him all freaked out because he makes a mistake every time he speaks. I can just see these handlers because they're handlers like they use on horses. 'Alright, get him off now, he's been up there long enough!' So they're screaming, 'Get off! Get off! Sleepy Joe, get off the stage! Please! Please, Joe, you're doing fine. Joe, you're doing fine. You're doing fine.'"

And at a campaign rally in Milwaukee just last month, Trump again mocked Biden for forgetting which state he was speaking in; "When you do that, you can't really recover," Trump concluded.

Then there is the whole, the-President-can't-find-Missouri-on-a-map idea. Which, again, not great!

But not that big a deal, except when you consider that Trump's own Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly challenged an NPR reporter to find Ukraine on a blank map after she asked him some questions regarding the President's interactions with the country.

Here's how the incident -- after the interview -- between Pompeo and NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly reportedly went down:

"Kelly was brought to Pompeo's private living room, she continued, 'where he was waiting and where he shouted at me for about (the) same amount of time as the interview itself had lasted.'

"Pompeo was displeased about the Ukraine questioning, and asked her, 'Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?" Kelly said, adding that "he used the F-word in that sentence and many others.'

"Pompeo then asked Kelly if she could find Ukraine on a map, she recounted, and when she said that she could, 'He called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing.'

"I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away. He said, 'People will hear about this,'" Kelly said. "And then he turned, said he had things to do and I thanked him again for his time and left."

So, yeah.

The reason stuff like Trump's Kansas flub can't be totally ignored is because if the shoe was on the other foot -- and it has been! -- we know that Trump not only doesn't ignore it, but seeks to make the flub some sort of sign of either declining mental ability or a lack of intelligence.

What does that mean about his own mistake then? Ask Donald Trump!

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