Dukakis in a Tank
'88 Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis staged a photo-op of himself riding in a tank dressed as a soldier. The idea was to make him look more like a leader. However, Republicans were quick to pounce on the ad, releasing their own version of the footage complete with narration listing off all the times Dukakis opposed defense spending and military action. It destroyed his campaign.
Binders Full of Women
During his 2012 campaign Mitt Romney was asked how he would address the gender pay gap. He responded by saying that he planned to fill his presidential cabinet with women. He went on to say that he asked several women's groups for their suggestions and was handed “whole binders full of women.” Social media adapted the phrase into a meme.
Ford Doesn't Believe in Communists
While debating Jimmy Carter, president Gerald Ford stated that “There is no Soviet Domination of Eastern Europe.” In 1976. When the moderator asked him to clarify the statement Ford refused to back down, listing three nations that weren't under Communist Rule instead.
Goldwater Doesn't Get Nukes
Barry Goldwater was arguably one of the worst presidential candidates ever. In 1964 Lyndon Johnson used Goldwater's pro-war stance against him using nothing but Goldwater's own words. He described the atomic bomb as “just another weapon.” The Johnson campaign took the quote and played it over footage of an explosion.
Too Many Waynes
Before her campaign even began Republican hopeful Michelle Bachmann shot herself in the foot by saying that, like John Wayne, she was from Waterloo, Iowa. However, while actor John Wayne is indeed from Iowa he isn't from Waterloo. But serial killer John Wayne Gacy was. How do you screw that up?