So with that said, here's a list of some more memorable ones...
Do I even need to even explain this one?
George Allen - 2006 - Macaca
There is an argument that George Allen would have beaten Jim Webb if he had just sat at home & watched soap operas all day, and kept his mouth shut. Thankfully for us, he didn't. There's arguably 2 of many gaffes that Allen made that really hurt him, but the first was the most damaging.
During a campaign stop in Breaks, Virginia, near the Kentucky border, Allen stopped during his stump speech and decided to direct comments to S.R. Sidarth, a 20-year-old Webb campaign volunteer. He told the audience...
"This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great. We're going to places all over Virginia, and he's having it on film and it's great to have you here and you show it to your opponent because he's never been there and probably will never come. [...] Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."
The second gaffe was the release of excerpts of Jim Webb's fiction books to the Drudge Report, in the hope that it would make Jim Webb look like a crazy sex-monster. This would have been like Phil Angiledes saying that Arnold Schwarzenegger was unfit to be Governor of California because he shot up a police station in the The Terminator and lest we forget, tried to kill Sarah Connor. Many predicted that the sexual excerpts from his novels would severely damage Webb's campaign, but instead it seemed to damage Allen. It's interesting to note that Webb only took the lead in polls after Allen leaked the explicit excerpts to Drudge & the media latched onto the story.
Michael Dukakis - 1988 - Tank Ride
At one point Michael Dukakis led Bush by 17 points in 1988, but it was decisions like this that wiped all of that lead away. Dukakis wanted to show his strength on National Security, so his campaign scheduled an event at a Defense-Plant. They positioned the cameras to catch Dukakis riding up in glory on a M1 Abrams Tank. However instead of looking like Alexander The Great riding into battle, he looked awkward & out of place with the tank helmet. The manufactured nature of the event played into making him look small. What was supposed to be a photo-op for the Dukakis Campaign, became a commercial for the Bush Campaign.
George Bush - 1988 - Read My Lips
This is one of those cases where something that helps to get you elected comes back to bite you. At the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans, George Herbert Walker Bush vowed that he wouldn't raise taxes by telling the public...
"And I'm the one who will not raise taxes. My opponent now says he'll raise them as a last resort, or a third resort. But when a politician talks like that, you know that's one resort he'll be checking into. My opponent, my opponent won't rule out raising taxes. But I will. And The Congress will push me to raise taxes and I'll say no. And they'll push, and I'll say no, and they'll push again, and I'll say, to them, `Read my lips: no new taxes."
Bush broke the promise with the 1990 Budget, and this became a club that Clinton used to beat the ever lovin' shit out of him with in the 92 election.
Walter Mondale - 1984 - I Will Raise Your Taxes
There was probably no speech that Walter Mondale could have given at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco that would have won him the election. However, he probably wouldn't have lost 49 states & damaged the image of the Democratic Party for years to come, if not for his acceptance speech. Trying to show his honesty compared to Reagan, he decided to tell people...
"Let's tell the truth. Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won't tell you. I just did."
While what he said may have been true, the speech fed the image of "Tax & Spend Liberals" that has been a talking point of Republicans ever since.
Dan Quayle - 1988 - Senator, You Are No Jack Kennedy
This is probably the clearest example of a politician being ruined from a blunder. Quayle would never really be taken seriously again after his encounter with Lloyd Bentsen in the 1988 VP Debate. Quayle already had "stature" problems to begin with. When he was questioned about it during the debate, he walked into one of the cleanest kills in political history with Lloyd Bentsen having the cunning of a pit-viper, nailed Quayle flush with his response....
Tom Brokaw: Senator Quayle, I don't mean to beat this drum until it has no more sound in it. But to follow up on Brit Hume's question, when you said that it was a hypothetical situation, it is, sir, after all, the reason that we're here tonight, because you are running not just for Vice President --
Brokaw: And if you cite the experience that you had in Congress, surely you must have some plan in mind about what you would do if it fell to you to become President of the United States, as it has to so many Vice Presidents just in the last 25 years or so.
Quayle: Let me try to answer the question one more time. I think this is the fourth time that I've had this question.
Brokaw: The third time.
Quayle: Three times that I've had this question -- and I will try to answer it again for you, as clearly as I can, because the question you are asking is what kind of qualifications does Dan Quayle have to be president, what kind of qualifications do I have and what would I do in this kind of a situation. And what would I do in this situation? [...] I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of vice president of this country. I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency. I will be prepared to deal with the people in the Bush administration, if that unfortunate event would ever occur.
Judy Woodruff: Senator Bentsen.
Bentsen: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.
(Prolonged shouts and applause)
Bentsen: What has to be done in a situation like that is to call in the --
Woodruff: Please, please, once again you are only taking time away from your own candidate.
Quayle: That was really uncalled for, Senator.
(Shouts and applause)
Bentsen: You are the one that was making the comparison, Senator -- and I'm one who knew him well. And frankly I think you are so far apart in the objectives you choose for your country that I did not think the comparison was well-taken.
You can watch the video of this exchange here. Even though Bush & Quayle would go on to win, Quayle's political career was severely damaged in seconds. His gaffes as Vice President, arguing about "Murphy Brown" or misspelling Potato(e), all fed into the image that he was a walking joke. There are some Republicans who believe that Bush should have replaced Quayle with another more viable VP in the 92 election, and he may have won.
Edmund Muskie - 1972 - Crying
Here's one of those things I wonder about how it might play today as opposed to the 1970s. Edmund Muskie was a Senator from Maine who was the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 1972. However, this would all collapse after an incident where he cried in response to attacks on him & his wife by the Manchester Union-Leader....
Prior to the New Hampshire primary, the so-called Canuck Letter was published in conservative New Hampshire newspaper, the Manchester Union-Leader. The letter claimed that Muskie had made disparaging remarks about French-Canadians - a remark likely to injure Muskie's support among the French-Canadian population in northern New England. Subsequently, the paper published an attack on the character of Muskie's wife Jane, reporting that she drank and used off-color language during the campaign.
Muskie decided to give an emotional speech outside the Union-Leader's offices defending himself and his wife...
"By attacking me, by attacking my wife, he has proved himself to be a gutless coward. And maybe I said all I should on it. It's fortunate for him he's not on this platform beside me. A good woman--
He appeared to cry during this (although Muskie claimed that it was from melted snowflakes), and the image of him became that of weakness. Muskie's candidacy collapsed. I wonder if something like this happened today, would the politician be looked down on in the same way as a "pussy" or would it actually garner sympathy and more support?
Republican National Convention - 1992 - Culture War
The purpose of a political convention is to reach out to people with a message in order to garner support. However, the 1992 Republican National Convention was a harbinger of the conservatism we fight today. It is most remember for the "Culture War" speech given by Pat Buchanan, which Molly Ivins said "probably sounded better in the original German." Buchanan stated...
"The agenda Clinton & Clinton would impose on America -- abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat -- that's change, all right. But it is not the kind of change America wants. It is not the kind of change America needs. And it is not the kind of change we can tolerate in a nation that we still call God's country."
Then you had the Vice President's wife, Marilyn Quayle, saying this...
"Not everyone believes that the family is so oppressive that women can only thrive apart from it...I sometimes think...liberals...are angry and disappointed because most women do not wish to be liberated from their essential natures as women. Most of us love being mothers and wives, which gives us a richness that few men or women get from professional accomplishment alone ...Nor has it made for a better society to liberate men from their obligations as husbands and fathers."
And then the RNC Chairman, Rich Bond, was telling reporters that in comparison to Democrats...
"We are America. They are not America."
Howard Dean - 2004 - Byaaah!!!
I know a lot of people here are not going to like this one. After coming in third at the 2004 Iowa Caucus, Dean gave a speech to the crowd that probably was the last nail that killed his Presidential campaign, where he "screamed"....
"Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we're going to California and Texas and New York ... And we're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan. And then we're going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Byaaah!!!"
It instantly became fodder for comedians and late night talkshows. The pundit class called it unpresidential, and played it almost nonstop. Dean's lead in New Hampshire evaporated & was the beginnning of the end for the Dean Campaign.
Gary Hart - 1987 - Monkey Business
If you're running for President, it's probably not a good idea to challenge the press to report on your "extracaricular" activities. Such is the tale of Gary Hart's 1988 Presidential Run...
Hart officially declared his candidacy on April 13, 1987. Rumors began circulating nearly immediately that Hart was having an extramarital affair. In an interview that appeared in the New York Times on May 3,1987 Hart responded to the rumors by daring the press corps: "Follow me around. I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored." The Miami Herald had been investigating Hart's rumored womanizing for weeks before the "dare" appeared in the New York Times. Two reporters from the Miami Herald had staked out his residence and observed an attractive young woman coming out of Hart's Washington, D.C., townhouse on the evening of May 2. The Herald published the story on Sunday, May 3, the same day Hart's dare appeared in print, and the scandal spread rapidly through the national media. Hart and his allies attacked the Herald for rushing the story into print, claiming that it had unfairly judged the situation without finding out the true facts. Hart claimed that the reporters had not watched both entrances to his home and could not have seen when the young woman entered and left the building. The Miami Herald reporter had flown to Washington, D.C. on the same flight as the woman, identified as Donna Rice. Hart was dogged with questions regarding his views on marital infidelity.
In public, his wife, Lee, supported him, claiming the relationship with the young woman was innocent. A poll of voters in New Hampshire for the New Hampshire Primary showed that Hart's support had dropped in half, from 32% to 17%, placing him suddenly ten points behind Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis.
On May 5, the Herald received a further tip that Hart had spent a night in Bimini on a yacht called the Monkey Business with a woman who was not his wife. The Herald obtained photographs of Hart aboard the Monkey Business with then-29-year-old model Donna Rice, sitting in over-50 year-old Hart's lap. The photographs were subsequently published in the National Enquirer. On May 8, 1987, a week after the Donna Rice story broke, Hart dropped out of the race. At a press conference, he lashed out at the media, saying "I said that I bend, but I don't break, and believe me, I'm not broken."
Bob Dole & Gerald Ford - 1976 - Democrat Wars And No Soviet Domination Of Eastern-Europe
In the 1976 Presidential Election, both Bob Dole & Gerald Ford had flubs in the Presidential & Vice Presidential debates that might have cost the ticket the election.
Bob Dole is now known as the nice old man that sold Viagra in commercials. However, part of Bob Dole's past reputation as a hatchet man comes from his performance in the Vice Presidential debate of 76. When asked about the pardon of President Nixon & it's use as an issue, Dole responded...
"It is an appropriate topic, I guess, but it's not a very good issue any more than the war in Vietnam would be or World War II or World War I or the war in Korea, all Democratic wars, all in this century. I figured up the other day. If we added up the killed and wounded in the Democrat wars in this century, it would be about 1.6 million Americans, enough to fill the city of Detroit. If we want to go back and rake that over and over again, we can do that."
Dole's comment was latched onto by the Carter campaign and Dole was criticized by veterans groups. However, Dole's remark isn't the one that's remembered from 76.
Gerald Ford had been lampooned on Saturday Night Live as an idiot by Chevy Chase, and the perception of him as a mental lightweight was pervasive. So when he was questioned about the Soviet's sphere of influence in Eastern Europe, Ford responded by saying....
"There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration."
The thousands of Warsaw Pact troops in Poland and East Germany didn't count I guess. The response fed into the image of Ford as a guy who didn't know what he was doing. Both of the gaffes by Ford & Dole may have been the margin in their close defeat in 76....