Mistakes Were Made: 9 Biggest Gaffes of the Indiana Primary

From “Indianoplace” to “basketball ring,” the Hoosier State has proven a tricky battleground for presidential wannabes in 2016.

Indiana’s once-in-a-lifetime moment in the political sun has had a way of humbling all five presidential candidates as we’ve welcomed them into our watering holes, pancake houses, ice-cream shops, and gymnasiums.

Here in flyover country, Hoosiers may be novices when it comes to presidential retail politics. But so, too, are national journalists and candidates, apparently, as evidenced in a string of Indiana-related gaffes. All five candidates traversing the state have committed cringe-worthy mistakes here—except for John Kasich, whose only mistake was not campaigning in a state where swaths of moderate Republican voters may have warmed to his Mitch Daniels–like pragmatic conservatism.

From Trump misspelling Bobby Knight—the man whom he cited last week as the greatest endorsement in Indiana of all time—to Ted Cruz calling a hoop a “basketball ring,” here’s a look at nine air balls that have defined Indiana’s historic 2016 primary.


That time Hillary Clinton called Indy “basketball-crazed Indianoplace.” Clinton scored the first Indiana gaffe of the 2016 cycle when, in 2010, she emailed an aide asking them, “Are you still in basketball-crazed Indianoplace?” After the email went public late last year, Hillary told CBS4 it was a joke.

A joke, huh? Fine. Now please explain the punch line.


That time MSNBC mixed us up with Iowa.


That time John Kasich didn’t campaign here. Kasich, whom some Hoosier politicos have likened to former Governor Mitch Daniels for his brand of pragmatic, ideas-driven conservatism, could have accumulated perhaps as many as six delegates in Indiana, winning maybe three each from the 5th and 7th Congressional Districts. Instead, in an ill-fated “pact” between him and Ted Cruz, he did not campaign in the state at all. This did not sit well with some voters, who were jilted at a previously planned event at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds last Tuesday.


That time Bill Cinton and Bernie Sanders called us “Indianans.” Over the weekend, Bill Clinton called us “Indianans.” At a Statehouse rally on Friday, so, too, did Bernie Sanders.

Perhaps Indiana lawmakers should take up the cause of passing a resolution giving the state an official demonym next legislative session—they have taken up far more frivolous pieces of legislation, whether making water the official beverage of the state or naming Sugar Cream the state’s official pie. If we want to avoid confusion about what we’re called, we need some official consensus here.


That time Donald Trump called Bobby Knight “Bobby Night” in a tweet—then deleted it. “I will be campaigning in Indiana all day,” Trump tweeted—and then deleted and edited on Monday morning. “Things are looking great, and the support of Bobby Night has been so amazing. Today will be fun!”


That time Ted Cruz called it a “basketball ring.”


That time Ted Cruz had to read from notes to cite quotes from one of his “favorite movies,” Hoosiers. Each time Cruz cites Hoosiers as his “favorite movie” while on the campaign trail, he pulls out a sheet of notes to read from his favorite quotes—the same quotes many fans of the movie know by heart.

That time national reporters pronounced Carmel “Car-MEL.” Sorry, wrong state.


That time Mike Pence endorsed Ted Cruz. Or did he? We’re still trying to suss this one out. The governor’s non-endorsement endorsement of Cruz sounded more like a nod to Trump. “I particularly want to commend Donald Trump, who I think has given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with a lack of progress in Washington, D.C.,” Pence told WIBC’s Greg Garrison on Friday. “I am also particularly grateful that Donald Trump has taken a strong stand for Hoosier jobs, when we saw jobs of the Carrier company abruptly announcing they are leaving Indiana. Not for another state, but for Mexico. I am grateful for his voice in the national debate.”

“Seriously, if somebody endorsed me that way, I would go on the radio the next hour and say, ‘He can take his blanking endorsement back,’” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said Monday on Morning Joe. “That was no endorsement.”