Unlikely stars of the 2016 race: Ken Bone, Rosie and those DNC balloons

The 2016 race for president has been filled with the unlikeliest of figures -- from bizarre debate shoutouts (see: Rosie O'Donnell and Honest Abe) to recurring mentions (like Russian President Vladimir Putin).

And some inanimate objects -- such as Mexico's wall -- have become so synonymous with this election cycle that they've taken on a life of their own.

Move over, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton: Here are the true stars of this election season.

The rise and fall of Ken Bone was swift -- and unexpected. The undecided voter stole hearts during the second presidential debate on Oct. 9 with his question on energy, his red sweater (which quickly sold out on Amazon.com) and the hashtag born from his name -- the #bonezone. But things took a turn when, days later, during a Reddit Q&A, his controversial comment history was revealed, with Bone weighing in on Jennifer Lawrence's naked photos and the killing of Trayvon Martin. (Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Paul J. Richards)

Rosie O'Donnell and Trump have had an ongoing and well-known feud for years, but America was confused, to say the least, when she was name-checked in the first Republican primary debate back in August 2015. Moderator Megyn Kelly said, "You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account..." Trump quickly interjected, "Only Rosie O'Donnell," drawing raucous laughter from the audience and a tweet from O'Donnell that simply said, "try explaining that 2 ur kids."

And if you thought that would be the only mention of O'Donnell at a debate, you thought wrong. At the first presidential debate in September, Clinton remarked that Trump has called women pigs, slobs and dogs. He countered, "I said very tough things to [Rosie O'Donnell], and I think everybody would agree she deserves it, and nobody feels sorry for her."

(Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Toth)

You can't mention O'Donnell without giving a nod to "The Kelly File" host who found herself at the center of the 2016 race when she pressed Trump about his remarks on women (see above). "Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton that you are part of the war on women?" she asked. Trump told her, "I've been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me." And so began a one-sided feud; Trump told the media that Kelly had "blood coming out of her wherever," he tweeted and retweeted criticism of the Fox News anchor and he boycotted a debate that she moderated before eventually sitting down for a one-on-one interview with her. (Credit: Getty Images / Jemal Countess)



Mary J. Blige's new Apple Music show, "The 411 With Mary J. Blige," went viral for an awkward promo clip, which showed Blige singing Bruce Springsteen's "American Skin (41 Shots)" to Clinton. How did Clinton respond to being serenaded? You'll have to watch the full interview to find out. (Credit: Getty Images / Maddie Meyer)

Trump has name-checked Russian President Vladimir Putin almost as often as he's vowed to "build a wall" (but more on that later). The GOP nominee has repeatedly praised Putin as a leader -- and Putin, too, has complimented Trump as a "bright" person. Even after the U.S. government formally accused Russia of hacking the DNC, Trump said at the second presidential debate that there may not have been any hacking.

Clinton "doesn't know if it's the Russians doing the hacking," he said. "Maybe there is no hacking." He went on to say that Russia gets blamed in an effort to "tarnish" Trump, adding, "I know nothing about Russia ... I know about Russia, but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia."

(Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Alexei Druzhinin)

Since the beginning of his candidacy, Trump has pledged to handle illegal immigration by building a wall on the southern border ... and making Mexico pay for it. In the speech announcing his candidacy back in June of 2015, he told the audience, "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best ... They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." For what it's worth, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has insisted that Mexico won't pay for a border wall. (Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Frederic J. Brown)

Who would have thought that old Howard Stern interviews would play such a role in the 2016 presidential race? During the NBC Commander-in-Chief Forum in September, Clinton directed Americans to a 2002 Stern interview during which Trump said he was in favor of invading Iraq; Trump has repeatedly said that he opposed the Iraq War, despite the interview's existence. Other old Stern-Trump interviews have continued to resurface, including one where Trump told Stern it was OK to call his daughter, Ivanka, "a piece of ass." (Credit: Getty Images / Mireya Acierto)

Alicia Machado found herself at the center of the first presidential debate in September when Clinton charged Trump with calling the 1996 Miss Universe winner "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeping." Clinton continued, "Donald, she has a name. Her name is Alicia Machado and she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet she is going to vote this November." Days later, in a 3 a.m. Twitter rant, Trump suggested that Clinton helped Machado become a U.S. citizen "so she could use her in the debate." He also slammed the pageant winner as "disgusting" and directed followers to "check out [her] sex tape and past." When asked about the late-night tweets at the second presidential debate, he said, "I'm not unproud of it." (Credit: Getty Images / Matt Winkelmeyer)



How did Honest Abe find his way into this election cycle? The long-deceased president was name-checked at the second presidential debate after moderator Martha Raddatz asked Clinton about a purported paid speech in which she discussed public versus private positions on issues. Clinton responded, "As I recall, that was something I said about Abraham Lincoln after having seen the wonderful Steven Spielberg movie called 'Lincoln.' It was a master class watching President Lincoln get the Congress to approve the 13th Amendment. It was principled, and it was strategic." Trump's response? "She got caught in a total lie. ... And now she's blaming the lie on the late, great Abraham Lincoln." (Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Yuri Gripas)

"Call Sean Hannity!" This repeated phrase was among the most memorable of the first presidential debate, as Trump insisted that he had told the Fox News host that he opposed the Iraq War. "Nobody calls Sean Hannity," he said. (Credit: Getty Images / Paul Zimmerman)

Former "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush found himself at the center of controversy in October after a lewd video surfaced that revealed Bush and Trump bantering and laughing about women back in 2005. Bush, most recently a "Today" host, was suspended from the morning show before NBC announced his permanent departure. ""I am deeply grateful for the conversations I've had with my daughters, and for all of the support from family, friends and colleagues," he said in a statement. "I look forward to what lies ahead." (Credit: Getty Images / Craig Barritt)

Melania Trump wore what to the second presidential debate? Two days after a 2005 lewd video surfaced, in which Trump was heard saying, "Grab 'em by the p---y," Melania wore a blouse with an interesting name to the St. Louis debate. Trump's campaign spokeswoman said that wearing a blouse with that name wasn't intentional. (Credit: Getty Images / Scott Olson)

The true winner of this election cycle? Art. It takes a lot to get the average New Yorker's attention, but these naked statues of Trump and Clinton, which appeared two months apart in Manhattan, certainly did the trick. (Credit: Alison Fox; @thegorillanj via Instagram)



Clinton has long struggled to appear relatable, but on April 7, she was just another New Yorker struggling with her MetroCard. Politicians, they're just like us! The former U.S. senator from New York was in the Bronx to chat with residents and to take a ride on the 4 train but found herself attempting five swipes before the turnstyle let her pass. We've all been there, right? (Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Renneisen)

Who hacked the DNC? "It could be Russia, but it could also be China," Trump said at the first presidential debate. "It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds." U.S. officials have since confirmed that they believe Russia was behind the hack. (Credit: iStock)

The size of Trump's hands came up in the most unlikely of places: a televised debate.

Then-opponent Marco Rubio said Trump had "small hands" at an event in Virginia in late February. "And you know what they say about guys with small hands ... you can't trust 'em!" Rubio said. Days later, at a Republican primary debate, Trump brought the remark up. Live. On national television. "Look at those hands, are they small hands? And, [Rubio] referred to my hands, 'If they're small, something else must be small.' I guarantee you, there is no problem," Trump said.

(Credit: Getty Images / Kena Betancur)

Have Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin been impersonating the presidential candidates, or have Trump and Clinton been taking cues from the "SNL" actors? Some days, it's hard to tell. McKinnon and Baldwin have been playing Clinton and Trump with such precision that we're starting to mix them up in our minds. (Credit: NBC Universal)

It's been a stressful, polarizing election cycle, but let's end on a high note with the positively joyful photos of Bill Clinton at the DNC that nearly broke the internet. The message here? Find something you love as much as Bill apparently loves balloons. (Credit: Getty Images / Aaron P. Bernstein)




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