6 Presidential Campaigns Ruined By Self-inflicted Gunshot Wounds to the Foot

6. The 2000 Al Gore campaign botches the Florida recount right out of the gate

Truth be told, Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign had no shortage of epic fails long before the election was even stolen.

Among them, adding this ass-clown to the ticket.

However, the decision that ultimately proved fatal for the entire Gore campaign was their failure to press for a full statewide recount in Florida, which was kind of a no-brainer since the Florida Constitution required in the first place. According to presidential historian Paul F. Boller, this disastrous move “doomed” Gore to defeat to matter how Bush v. Gore played out in the US Supreme Court. The result, as attorney Jeffrey Toobin put it, was “the wrong man was inaugurated on January 20, 2001.”

Also, that Pat Buchanan apparently polls extremely well with Jewish voters.

 5. Gerald Ford forgets there’s a Cold War going on

Despite his spectacularly unpopular decision to pardon Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford saw a surge of support in 1976 following his first presidential debate against Jimmy Carter.  Helping the President was the fact that Carter looked shorter than David Spade in comparison. However, during the second presidential debate on October 6, 1976, Ford remarkably remarked “there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe” even though, you know, there kinda was. It was the freaking Cold War at the time.

Pictured: The Cold War.

Ford’s blunder allowed Carter to pull off what Gallup described as “the greatest comeback in the history of public-opinion polling.” Still, while regarded as a joke for decades, eight years of George W. Bush eventually proved quite beneficial for Ford as unsuccessful presidencies go. I mean, there are worse legacies.

This picture alone would be enough to swing an election today.

4. Gary Hart’s monkey business

To all would-be presidential candidates out there, please take the following free political advice to heart: When people start calling you “the next Kennedy,” there are two things that you should never, ever do. One is have an extramarital affair, and the other is dare reporters to find out about it. In 1987, Gary Hart did both, and all while wearing this stupid shirt:

Yes, “Monkey Business.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the first of two George Bushes became president in 1988.

3. The Anti-Catholic rant that ruined a presidency

In 1884, James G. Blaine had his lunch and luggage packed for his new gig as president of the United States. He had enough states leaning his way to win including the electoral-rich New York—more on that later—and his Democratic opponent Grover Cleveland was embroiled in the then-juiciest sex-scandal in US history. But then, just one week before Election Day, Blaine decided to make an appearance in New York City with a certain Reverend Dr. Samuel D. Burchard who simply couldn’t keep his gripes with Roman Catholicism to himself. With Blaine beside him, Burchard told a crowd of hundreds of Protestant clergymen: “We are Republicans, and don’t propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion.”


Samuel D. Burchard, apparently.

Sure enough, these remarks didn’t fare too well with New York’s tens of thousands of Irish voters. The next week, Blaine lost New York State and the election by only 1,149 votes out of more than 1 million cast. He later griped “I should have carried New York by 10,000 if the weather had been clear on election day and Dr. Burchard had been doing missionary work in Asia Minor or Cochin China.” Or, you know, if Blaine had been smart enough to stay the hell away from Burchard in the first place.

2. George B. McClellan takes douchebaggery to its highest level

After singlehandedly blowing the Civil War with every single advantage working for him, former Union General/dickhead George B. McClellan decided to run for President against Abraham Lincoln on the platform of ending the Civil War on the basis of “secession.” I.e., surrender, which damn nearly happened because the Civil War was going so bad by 1864 that it nearly cost Lincoln his reelection and several million slaves their freedom.

There was no part of this poster that McClellan did not like.

However, literally the day after the Democrats agreed to make “surrender without victory” their central platform, Gen. William T. Sherman captured Atlanta after a long, brutal siege that became the stuff of romance novels. It was a spectacular victory that guaranteed Lincoln his second term thanks to McClellan and his buddies betting all their chips on a Union failure the day before Sherman branded his name on the Confederacy’s ass.

1. Just about everything Ross Perot ever did

Make no mistake: In 1992 Ross Perot nearly became the first third-party candidate elected president since—believe it or not—Abraham Lincoln. He was a multi-billionaire, popular with moderates, entertaining as hell to watch, and so popular that he could have given a carpetbagger like George H. W. Bush a run for his money in his native state of Texas. By June, Bush was so bad at his job—something hereditary—and Clinton was so weak that Perot was ahead of Bush by 8 points and Clinton by 12 points in three-way polls.

Ross Perot polling strong in a three-way. Think about that for a minute.

So, what happened? For some reason Perot suspended his campaign just a few days later on July 16, citing a vast, right-wing conspiracy to sabotage his daughter’s wedding. While we honestly would not put this past the present day Republican Party, in the early 90’s it made Perot look like a quitter at best and flat-out coconuts at worst. Or both.

“I am not a quitter.” – Sarah Palin, before quitting the governorship.

After that, things only got worse for Ross Perot to the delight of comedians throughout the country.  While he did poll surprisingly well in the presidential debates, his running mate Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale came off as more batshit than a cave full of bats with such gems as “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” in the vice presidential debates.

Sadly, prime time-America simply wasn’t ready for a Perot Presidency.

As for late-night TV, that’s a different story.


Jacopo della Quercia is now on Twitter. Follow him!

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