Many a politician has been stung by the regrettable photo. Here are eleven examples of pictures politicians wish were never taken.
1. Jimmy Carter and the Killer Swamp Rabbit
The year was 1979 – not a great one for Jimmy Carter. There was an Energy Crisis and a Crisis of Confidence. And a lesser-known Crisis involving swamp rabbits. From The New York Times: “A ‘killer rabbit’ penetrated Secret Service security and attacked President Carter on a recent trip to Plains, Ga., according to White House staff members who said that the President beat back the animal with a canoe paddle.”
Carter backed off the whole “beat the animal with a paddle” part, explaining that he merely splashed water on the (killer) creature. He ordered a print of the photo, and later an enlargement, to prove his killer rabbit story. “It just played up the Carter flake factor,” Carter biographer Douglas Brinkley recalled. “I mean, he had to deal with Russia and the Ayatollah and here he was supposedly fighting off a rabbit.”
2. Gerald Ford and the Slippery Stairs
Despite being a college football star, and a gifted athlete throughout his life, this photo left the public with a very different impression of his balance. Here, Gerald Ford does his best impression of Chevy Chase doing his best impression of Gerald Ford, courtesy of UT-Austin.
3. Gary Hart and the Challenge to Reporters
On Sunday, May 3, 1987, the Miami Herald published a story claiming “Miami Woman is Linked to Hart.” That same weekend, E.J. Dionne had a profile of the then- frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in The New York Times Magazine, which included this infamous challenge by Hart: “Follow me around. I don’t care. I’m serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’d be very bored.”
Soon after, the Herald received this photo, which would later appear in the National Enquirer. It was taken aboard a boat hilariously named Monkey Business. Look closely and you’ll see “Monkey Business Crew” written on Hart’s shirt. He withdrew from the race on May 8th, only to re-enter in December. After receiving only 4% of the vote in the New Hampshire primary, he called it quits for good.
Hart flirted with re-running for President in 2004. The “Miami Woman” was Donna Rice, who went on to write a book called Kids Online: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace.
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