The Rushmore Report: Top Ten Campaign Gaffes in Presidential History


To say “presidential gaffes” is to repeat oneself. Recent memory recants some of the most unbelievable gaffes in presidential history. From Rick Perry’s “oops” comment to Dan Quayle’s “a mind is a terrible thing to never have” we have lots of candidates for our Top Ten list. We will limit our list to the last 50 years. This will make all Americans proud.

1. John Kerry – “I was for it before I was against it.”

Under attack for changing his mind on important issues, the 2004 Democratic candidate defended his switch on a funding bill. “I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.”

2. George McGovern – “I’m 1000 percent behind my running mate.”

When the media revealed that 1972 Democratic vice presidential candidate Thomas Eagleton had undergone electroshock treatment for depression, McGovern stood by his man – until the next week, when he dropped him from the ticket.

3. Gerald Ford – “We liberated Poland.”

In the first presidential debate of 1976, President Ford said that Poland had become free of Soviet domination. The problem was, it hadn’t.

4. Michael Dukakis – the wordless gaffe

Without saying a word, the 1992 Democratic nominee blew the election. Wanting to look tough on defense, he took a ride in a tank, staged for a campaign ad. But he looked like a little boy with a big helmet. The Democratic ad soon became a Republican ad.

5. Howard Dean – the scream

The one-time Democratic front-runner blew up in 2004. He yelled “yee-haw” after a narrow loss in the Iowa caucuses. Then he listed states he promised to win, followed by the most awkward scream in political history.

6. Barack Obama – “They cling to guns or religion.”

Running in 2008, the Illinois Senator mocked conservatives during a closed-door California fundraiser. Explaining the frustrations of small-town, blue-collar voters, he said, “They cling to their guns or religion.”

7. Barry Goldwater – embraced “extremism”

In 1964, the conservative stalwart gave his acceptance speech in San Francisco. He proclaimed, “Extremism in the pursuit of justice is no vice.” He then suffered the most massive loss in political history.

8. Gary Hart – “Follow me.”

When rumors circulated that Democratic candidate Gary Hart was having affairs, he invited the media to “Follow me around. It will be boring.” Soon after, the Miami Herald caught Hart in an affair with Donna Rice on a boat named “Monkey Business.”

9. George Romney – “I was brainwashed.”

While running for the 1968 Republican nomination, Senator Romney did himself no favors. He said, “When I came back from Vietnam I just had the greatest brainwashing that anyone can get.” He didn’t win the nomination.

10. Al Gore – “I invented the Internet.”

Vice President Al Gore ran for president in 2000. During a tough primary race against Bill Bradley, when speaking to CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, he ticked off his qualifications to be president. “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet,” he claimed. He became tagged a serial exaggerator, and it may have cost him the election.


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