Running for president is hard. Candidates have to be focused, dedicated and possess an almost unfathomable amount of vanity. It also takes a healthy appetite for shoe leather — you’re gonna put your foot directly in your mouth, usually on national television, more than few times before all is said and done.
At the end of June, campaign 2012 is coming along nicely on that front. We’ve seen candidates (and potential candidates) choke up on a debate stage, claim Paul Revere rang bells, scream at reporters on camera, flip-flop mightily and even misspell their own names at their own kickoffs. If the first six months of the presidential campaign trail are any guide, it’s going to be an exceptionally fun year.Come along with us as we count the fails (in no particular order):
Tim Pawlenty: Oh, you meant debate Mitt Romney now? As in, right now?
The former governor of Minnesota stepped up to the mic at the big CNN Republican candidates’ debate June 13 after laying the groundwork for a big attack on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney over health care. As the debate audience waited, Pawlenty backed off his attack on camera. Even he admits now that he made a huge mistake.
The televised moment it all came tumbling down for Pawlenty:
Sarah Palin and the non-existent shot heard round the world
Palin’s not yet running for president. But she’s been hinting at it often these past few months. One of her biggest presidential teases came in May, when she embarked on a bus tour of the northeastern United States. Palin drove around on a huge bus with her name on it and took questions from eager political media who followed her every move. As has so often been the case with Palin, a question from a reporter proved to be the tour’s undoing: her complete rewrite of Paul Revere’s midnight ride left observers scratching their heads and satirists rubbing their hands together with glee.
Unbelievably, Palin later said she was right about what happened that night Revere took to his trusty steed, and dismissed all the historians who said otherwise.
Mitt Romney: Obama’s terrible, but not as terrible as I said he was the last time you asked me
Romney is banking his entire second presidential campaign on one thing: the economy. He’s pilfered (or “paid homage to”) old British political ads from the Thatcher era, he’s asked supporters to play dead people lying on a highway, and he’s even joked about his own “unemployment” — all to the singlular end of dinging Obama on the health of the economy all the way to November.
And so it was, well, weird when he offered this walkback Friday: I never meant that Obama made the economy worse.
Herman Cain: I never said that! (he did)
Businessman and radio host Herman Cain has a Muslim problem. It’s not that he has a problem with Muslims, just the ones who are terrorists. Or something. At the conservative blogger confab RightOnline in May, Cain again reiterated his claim that he’d take special steps to make sure any Muslim who applied to his administration wasn’t a terrorist. Then, 10 minutes later, he said he’s never said such a thing and then yelled at the TPM reporter who asked him about it. He then said that Muslim applicants to a Cain administration will be treated the same way as anybody else.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) had a smooth, orderly and Iowa-focused kickoff event in late June. And then the, er, Iowa corn hit the fan.
Bachmann’s kickoff week will not be remembered for her rousing announcement speech. It will be remembered for her doubling down on the claim that the founders were abolitionists and confusing the birthplace of Iowa son John Wayne with the onetime home of notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
Jon Huntsman: What’s my name again?
The former governor of Utah and Obama’s ambassador to China spells his first name without an “H.” Undoubtedly this has tripped up more than one person who’s written about him and his Paul Ryan budget-loving, moderate-on-nearly-everything-else campaign.
Considering Hunstman’s uber-polished, media-focused campaign and its kickoff spectacular in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, you wouldn’t guess the people stuffing an extraneous “H” into his given name would be his own staff. And yet they did it, causing snickers among the press corps who went to cover him. It was not a great start for a man whose image is so much of his appeal.
Remember former House Speaker Newt Gingrich? You might be surprised to know he’s running for president. Still. His campaign kicked off with the rockiest of starts when he appeared on Meet The Press for the umpteenth time back in May and proceeded to trash the House Republican plan to change Medicare into a voucher system as though he were a DailyKos diarist on 6 cups of coffee.
Watch where it all began, on MTP: