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Photo Illustration: The QAnon logo behind a debate podium
MSNBC / Getty Images

QAnon-linked Arizona candidate faceplants during debate

Behold: perfect evidence that having online clout in right-wing circles doesn’t make you qualified to serve in elected office.


Online fame and infamy can, at times, give people unwarranted confidence and a false sense of importance. 

That certainly seems to be the case with Ron Watkins, the QAnon-linked congressional candidate in Arizona who — despite being a popular figure on far-right message boards — apparently has no real-life charisma whatsoever. 

Watkins is suspected by many to be "Q," the central figure in the fascist QAnon conspiracy theory (though he's denied the claims). He appeared at his first primary debate on Wednesday alongside two other Republicans, and if Watkins’ performance is any indicator, he’s the most likely to flame out.

Take this intro, for example: 

OK, so that was a rough start. But maybe Ron was just workin' himself into a rhythm. Let’s see how he fares when it comes to specific policy matters. 

Here’s Ron whiffing on what prompted Russia’s attack on Ukraine: 

The answer was so bad Ron allowed his decidedly right-wing opponent, state Rep. Walt Blackman, to sound relatively lucid (even as he pushed debunked claims about the Keystone XL Pipeline). 

Let’s try another. Here’s Ron claiming the biggest issue in his would-be district, one of Arizona's northernmost districts, is the incomplete border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Who needs a border wall when Ron can just scare off migrants with a cold stare? 

Let’s try one more. Climate change! That’s an issue of tremendous import. And surely in a state like Arizona, where climate change is and will be a particularly troubling issue for years to come, Ron has thoughts on how to curb its most devastating impacts. Right? Let’s ask him. 

Welp, we tried.

Speaking to his horde of far-right followers from behind a computer screen, Watkins could pitch himself as someone deeply attuned to politics. That image shattered in hilarious fashion the moment he was actually forced to explain his stances in the real world.