The Upshot

Mitt Romney’s not the only one: a look back at gaffes

The Upshot

Mitt Romney may want to take heart that in the history of political missteps, he is not alone. Having a campaign aide compare the candidate's move into the general campaign to an Etch A Sketch (you can  shake it up and start over again) is up there, but let's face it: Both Republican and Democrats have pulled some real doozies ("I am not a crook," anyone?)

Here, some classic moments and Titanic-size gaffes.

Michael Dukakis in a tank.

If the name doesn't ring a bell, it's because the former Masscahusetts governor, running on the democratic ticket, lost the 1988 election to George H.W. Bush in a landslide. The image of the Northeastern liberal was hard to shake, so in an effort to change the conversion, he made a fatal decision for a  photo op sitting in a tank at a General Dynamics plant. Compared with the actual World War II veteran Bush, Dukakis looked ridiculous. Needless to say, the photo backfired, and the campaign failed.

George W. Bush: "mission accomplished"?

The televised moment was staged for maximum effect. It was 2003, and President George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln after piloting the plane himself, in order to claim, as the banner behind him read, "Mission Accomplished." Although the conventional stage of the fighting did end, the war in Iraq continued until President Obama withdrew the troops in 2011. Thanks to that moment, that phrasing haunted the president through both terms.

Al Gore,  Internet inventor.

The vice president for the Clinton administration, Gore went on to run for president in the 2000 election. But what he may be known for is supposedly claiming he invented the Internet. It all started innocently enough: The politician appeared on CNN to announce his candidacy for president in 1999. When asked by Wolf Blitzer what distingished him from his competitors, the candidate replied these now infamous words: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."  Even Snopes, the debunker of urban ledgends, has called the idea that Al  Gore claimed to invent false. But the stories, or at least the jokes, persist.

Nixon's five o'clock shadow.

Richard M. Nixon did eventually become president in 1972, but when he ran against John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election, he lost in a squeaker. Historians believe that Nixon gave away the race by appearing in the first-ever televised debate with a five o'clock shadow. Compared with Kennedy, who looked tanned and telegenic, Nixon appeared old and tired. People who listened to the debate on the radio thought Nixon had won. But on television, it was Kennedy by a mile. The contrast in this new-to-TV political debate worked, and Kennedy won the election.

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