Outsiders were in. Donald Trump wanted Muslims kept out. And Hillary Clinton’s “damn emails” were no longer a state secret.
It was a tumultuous year in politics: Trump upended the Republican establishment with a brash candidacy that has tapped a deep vein of discontent with politics as usual. Revelations that Clinton used a private email server punched a hole in her presumed inevitability. And Jeb Bush dropped from front-runner to all-but-forgotten.
The top 10, anything but politics as usual, moments:
10. Carly Fiorina stands up and stands out in the Republicans’ first undercard debate in August, enabling her to move up to prime time for the Sept. 16 Republican presidential debate.
“Women heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” Fiorina said, replying to a Trump insult at the prime-stage debate with enough aplomb that she left Trump momentarily speechless.
9. Black Lives Matter activists interrupt Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley at a July forum in Phoenix, forcing the candidates to largely stop using the phrase, “All Lives Matter.”
“Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter,” Martin O’Malley said to boos at the Phoenix rally.
They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
Donald Trump, June 16 in New York City
8. Jeb Bush stumbles for a week in May trying to answer a seemingly obvious question about the most controversial element of his brother’s legacy, the Iraq war. Bush at first refuses to say he wouldn’t have invaded Iraq in 2003 – even if he knew then that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction.
It wasn’t until four days later that Bush said that in hindsight, he would not have gone to war in Iraq.
“If we’re all supposed to answer hypothetical questions, ‘knowing what we now know what would you have done,’ I would not have engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq,” Bush says May 14 in Tempe, Ariz.
7. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who won three gubernatorial victories in four years in the blue state of Wisconsin and had been the GOP front-runner in Iowa over the summer, drops out of the race on Sept. 21 after a stumbling campaign.
“Today I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field,” Walker said.
6. Bernie Sanders criticizes the attention paid to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as Democratic presidential candidates debate for the first time, on Oct. 13. His comment gives Clinton a pass on the controversial issue from her chief primary opponent.
“Let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails. Enough of the emails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America,” he said.
Women heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.
5. Vice President Joe Biden on Oct. 21 ends months of speculation that he’d heed the deathbed plea of his son, Beau, and run for the presidency. Biden’s decision greatly boosts Clinton’s prospects.
“We’re out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination,” Biden says in the Rose Garden at the White House.
4. Hillary Clinton withstands 11 hours of grilling by critics who accused her of failing to prevent the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. She emerges unscathed from the Oct. 22 marathon congressional hearing that was billed as a high-stakes faceoff.
“I would imagine I’ve thought more about what happened than all of you put together,” Clinton tells the GOP-led panel. “I’ve lost more sleep than all of you put together. I have been wracking my brain about what more could have been done or should have been done.”
3. Donald Trump in December proposes suspending the entry of Muslims to the United States, touching off sharp denunciations from religious groups, the White House and top Republican leaders – but gaining a boost in the polls among Republicans.
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” says the Trump campaign statement.
2. The focus of the campaign shifts after terrorists kill 130 and wound hundreds in Paris, and then when a husband and wife kill 14 and wound 21 at a workplace holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif. Tough-talking Trump and Ted Cruz soar while Ben Carson stumbles with foreign policy and voters flee.
“We have people across this country who are scared to death,” Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey says at the fifth Republican debate.
Today I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field.
Gov. Scott Walker
1. Donald Trump on June 16 announces he’s running for president in a rambling monologue in which he accuses Mexico of sending “rapists” to the U.S., a brash proclamation that upends the Republican race for the nomination and puts immigration policy front and center in the debate.
“They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us,” he says. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”