More Super Duper Political Bloopers

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“Sense of humor goes a long way,” Cerf says. “Al Gore might consider that. One wonders how much longer Nixon would have stayed in office, had he had a sense of humor about himself, not that I wanted that.”

Shot Through the Hart

Perhaps the all-time killer blooper belongs to Gary Hart. The former Colorado senator challenged reporters to back up rumors of his adulterous womanizing. “Follow me around. I don’t care,” he told reporters in May 1987, when he was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. “I’m serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’ll be very bored.”

Reporters decided to take him up on it. On the very day Hart’s challenge was published in The New York Times, reports emerged linking him to actress-model Donna Rice. The National Enquirer put a nail in his political coffin by publishing a picture of the senator with a giddy smile and the young woman on his lap.

“She dropped into my lap,” Hart told Ted Koppel on Nightline several months later, after he withdrew from the race. “I was embarrassed. I chose not to drop her off, and the picture was taken. I was not on my watch. I let my guard down.”

Hart tried to revive his political career, yet he could never live down Donna Rice and his challenge to the media.

One could argue that Gerald Ford took a fatal hit in the 1976 presidential debates with Jimmy Carter. Ford assured voters, “There is no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration.”

Ford, a former All-American football player at the University of Michigan, had a reputation in office for being a klutz. Newspapers often printed photos of him entangled in the leashes of his dogs or bumping his head on the door of his helicopter. One time, he even locked himself out of the White House and had to bang on the door until Secret Service agents let him in.