It has been a truly strange year for American politics. From a Republican primary dominated by political outsiders to a surprisingly strong showing by democratic-socialist Bernie Sanders on the other side of the political aisle. Plus, there’s been plenty of action on Capitol Hill, with fights over the budget and Planned Parenthood, and a new Speaker of the House.
Here are 10 of the weirdest, most telling, or most significant quotes from politicians this year — excluding those from Donald Trump, who provided so much material we decided to give him his own list.
Carly Fiorina: “I am Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare.”
If there’s one thing to be said for former HP CEO Fiorina, its this: she knows her way around a sound bite. In a crowded primary field, Fiorina has done anything she can to advance the idea that likely Democratic nominee Clinton won’t be able to talk as much about her gender in a race against another woman.
Bernie Sanders: “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!”
This was the line that introduced many Americans to the legend of Bernie Sanders, the 2016 presidential race’s shouty grandpa. Given the chance to attack Clinton’s credibility by talking about her e-mail scandal, Sanders elected not to. Clinton was thankful.
Paul Ryan: “The last one is personal. I cannot and will not give up my family time. I may not be able to be on the road as much as previous speakers, but I pledged to make up for it with more time communicating our message.”
When asked to run for Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan had a few conditions. The last one was that he be allowed to spend enough time with his family despite taking on the new job. While some applauded the fact that a male politician was prioritizing his family life, others felt this was hypocritical given Ryan’s opposition to mandated family leave legislation.
Hillary Clinton: “I’m a progressive, but I’m a progressive that likes to get things done.”
After being in the spotlight for nearly three decades, it was obvious that Hillary Clinton was going to take some flak in her second bid for the Democratic nomination. She has been challenged from the left by Bernie Sanders, and in the first Democratic debate, she offered this line to defend her record.
Jim Webb: “All right. Well, I’m trying to set a mark here so maybe we can get into a little more later on. This hasn’t been equal time.”
Poor Jim Webb. All the former Senator from Virginia wanted was a chance to talk during the first Democratic debate. Moderator Anderson Cooper, though, preferred to chat with Clinton and Sanders. Webb soon dropped out of the race.
Ted Cruz: “The questions asked in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media. This is not a cage match. And you look at the questions—Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues? And Carl, I’m not finished yet. The contrast with the Democratic debate, where every thought and question from the media was, which of you is more handsome and why?”
Attacking the media is a time-honored tactic among Republican political hopefuls, and Ted Cruz did it perfectly in the CNBC Republican debate, calling out the moderators for what he felt were biased and unfair questions.
Jeb Bush: “As it relates to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure: He kept us safe. I don’t know if you remember, Donald. You remember the — the rubble? You remember the firefighter with his arms around it? He sent a clear signal that the United States would be strong and fight Islamic terrorism, and he did keep us safe.”
It was no secret that the legacy of Jeb Bush’s father and brother would be a burden for the Republican presidential hopeful. When Donald Trump claimed in a debate that the U.S. ended up with President Obama because of George W. Bush’s failings, Jeb fired back.
Marco Rubio: “These are extraordinarily dangerous times that we live in. And the next president of the United States better be someone that understands these issues and has good judgment about them because the number one issue that a president will ever confront, and the most important obligation that the federal government has, is to keep this nation safe.”
In a Republican presidential field that’s short on foreign policy expertise, Marco Rubio has done the best he can to be the standard bearer of the neoconservative principle of peace through strength. Here, he outlined his belief in a strong national defense.
Bernie Sanders: “The next time you hear me attacked as a socialist—like tomorrow—remember this: I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families of this country who produce the wealth of this country deserve a decent standard of living and that their incomes should go up, not down.”
Here’s another one from Bernie, because his speech about democratic-socialism was too big to ignore. Here, Sanders defined democratic-socialism and separated his beliefs from Marxist socialism.
Ben Carson: “Thank you for not asking me what I said in the 10th grade, and I appreciate that.”
After questions surfaced over whether Carson had embellished parts of his biography, he delivered this zinger during the Fox Business debate.