The best US presidential campaign gaffes

By midday tomorrow, the next president of the United States will likely have been chosen. The 2008 campaign trail has seen some of the most interesting candidates in American political history – but it also has played host to many mistakes. Courtesy of, here are 12 of the top gaffes of 2008.


1. At a rally last week, Republican candidate John McCain called out for “Joe the plumber,” his campaign buddy embodying the middle class. But Joe was nowhere to be found.

“Joe’s with us today. Joe where are you? Where is Joe? Is Joe with us today? All right. Well, you’re all Joe the plumbers, so all of you stand up!” – John McCain


2. After months of trying to distance himself from the Republican Party and current President George W Bush, McCain made the mistake of bringing himself a little too close when speaking on MSNBC.

“Do we share a common philosophy of the Republican Party? Of course.” – John McCain


3. Republican vice-presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin received an unlikely insult from Senator Joe Lieberman, a McCain supporter. Lieberman later confirmed his remarks.

“Thank God she’s not going to have to be president from day one. McCain’s going to be alive and well.” – Joe Lieberman


4. A news story detailing the price tag of Palin’s wardrobe did little to help her standing with independents.

“The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorise vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.” –


5. Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden claimed at a rally the world would “test” presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama, leading Republicans to once again criticise the Senator’s lack of experience.

“Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember, I said it standing here, if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.” – Joe Biden


6. Governor Palin fumbled when explaining the duties of the vice-president. A question she asked herself in July, not long before she was named the vice-presidential candidate.

“They’re in charge of the US Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better.” – Sarah Palin


7. Govenor Palin isolated the rest of America when she claimed the “best of America” was in small towns, with some taking the comment to imply she thinks of cities as “un-American”. A spokesperson later clarified the remarks.

“We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation.” – Sarah Palin


8. Senator Biden, known for his gaffes, made an embarrassing counting error during a rally.

“John’s last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number one job facing the middle class and it happens to be — as Barack says — a three letter word. Jobs. J-O-B-S. Jobs.” – Joe Biden


9. In an ironic slip of the tongue, John McCain seemed to forget his opponent’s actual name for a few seconds during a debate.

“If you notice, in all of his proposals, Senator government wants … Senator Obama wants government to do the job.” – John McCain


10. After this simple explanation of his principles to a plumber, Obama spent weeks explaining away his “secret socialist tendencies”.

“I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” – Barack Obama

11. During a rally, McCain deviated from his script and seemed to condemn several Americans to jail.

“Across this country, this is the agenda I have set before my fellow prisoners and the same standards of clarity and candor must now be applied to my opponent.” – John McCain


12. During the second presidential candidates debate, a McCain comment sparked fears of underlying racial tension between the two candidates.

“There was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney. You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one. You know who voted against it? Me.” – John McCain


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