Bill Richardson

The Washington Post ran a story today about the frequency with which backtracking has become the rule and not the exception this campaign season.

Say what? The 2008 presidential campaign theme could be “Oops! What I meant was …”

Just about every Republican and Democrat has flubbed an answer to a question or made a borderline inappropriate comment _ some so uncomfortable they make you cringe _ only to take back the remarks or seek to clarify them later when under fire.

This month alone, Republican Mitt Romney backtracked from a comment about his sons’ lack of military service. Rival Rudy Giuliani retreated from his suggestion that he spent as much time as Sept. 11 rescue workers at the ground zero site and was exposed to the same health risks. Democrat Bill Richardson stumbled over a question about whether homosexuality was a choice. All sought to skirt controversy by quickly explaining themselves.

It is happening so often, “you’d think it’s deliberate!” quipped G. Terry Madonna, a pollster at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania.

Joking aside, he said: “I don’t think you can go through this grueling ordeal and not find even the most seasoned politician who isn’t susceptible to misspeaking or a malaprop here or there. We’re seeing some genuinely real moments as these candidates are in the pressure cooker.”

Chalk up the glut of apologies and clarifications to changing times.

Candidates of all stripes have become extremely sensitive to the Internet era and painfully aware of video-sharing Web sites such as YouTube that allow images and audio to be posted online immediately.



In a story a little more lighthearted than most covered by Reality Check comes the latest installation in the AP’s interviews on the candidates’ personal habits and preferences. Indulge yourself in some their bad habits…

“What is your worst habit?


Delaware Sen. Joe Biden: ‘Too many to list. :)’

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton: Chocolate

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd: ‘Running late, even when my staff does everything in their power to prevent it.’

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards: ‘Drinking soda’

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich: ‘Ask my wife, Elizabeth.’

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama: ‘Checking my Blackberry.’

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: ‘Straying from my diet.’



Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback: ‘Being late.’

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani: ‘Talking too much.’

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: ‘Channel surfing on TV or radio.’

California Rep. Duncan Hunter: ‘Not turning off the Outdoor Life Network (now Versus) before I go to sleep.”

Arizona Sen. John McCain: ‘Coffee’

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: ‘Fidgeting”

Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo: ‘Cigar smoking'”