For politicians churning out multitudes of sound bites, press releases and Tweets in our 24-hour news cycle, the probability of making a spelling or grammar mistake is high. Some are inconsequential, others are laughable, and a few are downright embarrassing. Take a look at these famous flubs from the last few campaign cycles.
1. The Obama Campaign's "Congrssional Budget Office"—In a video blasting Republican Mitt Romney for offering misleading information on the national debt, the Democratic President's policy director appeared in a searing video citing numbers directly from the nonpartisan congressional budget watchdog. However, when the screen flashed to the slide citing the CBO, it was erroneously labeled as the "Congrssional Budget Office." The ad lost its bite and the President took some ribbing in the press.
2. Cory Booker's "Barak Obama"—Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat who caused ire among members of his own party for referring to some Team Obama campaign tactics as "nauseating," attempted to make very public amends by taking out a full-page ad in support of the President in a New Jersey newspaper. Unfortunately, Mayor Booker's campaign neglected to spell-check the President's name and urged voters to "re-elect President Barak Obama." The missing letter "C" from Obama's first name earned Booker additional negative headlines.
3. Todd Akin's "your," "your're," "you're"—The Missouri GOP Senate nominee's campaign was already dead in the water thanks to his inaccurate and ill-advised comments about rape, but critics still pounced on Akin when he took to the web to apologize using improper grammar. In a call for supporters to forgive his mistake, Akin added a page to his website asking fans to tell opponent Claire McCaskill "your standing with Todd Akin." Twitter erupted with jokes and the campaign attempted to correct the website, accidentally replacing the incorrect "your" with the misspelled "your're." They finally got it right on the third try, but Akin's image was beyond repair. (See my list of Common Violations of English Words)
4. Mitt Romney's "Amercia"—For a week or so in June, it seemed the Romney campaign just couldn't catch a break, posting multiple spelling errors on Facebook along with this unfortunate typo on its "With Mitt" app. One of the photo frames in the Republican presidential candidate's app called for "a better Amercia," causing widespread mockery on the web. The campaign corrected the app quickly by removing the photo frame, but the jokes kept rolling for days.
5. Mitt Romney's "Ronald Regan"—Just one week after the embarrassment of the "Amercia" mistake, the Romney campaign stepped in it again. During a meeting with GOP fundraisers, a slide comparing presidential approval ratings misspelled President Ronald Reagan's last name as "Regan." Reagan is widely known across the globe as one of the most revered and popular presidents of modern times, and coverage by international news outlets in the UK, Canada and Ireland made this typo an international embarrassment.
6. Jon Huntsman's "John"—Republican Huntsman was known for his attention to detail, especially in carefully scripting his presidential campaign kickoff in 2012. Unfortunately, reporters attending the kickoff were given press credentials noting the launch of "John Huntsman for America." Misspelling the candidate's own first name didn't exactly inspire confidence. To compound the issue, his campaign made the same spelling mistake a few weeks later in literature mailed to New Hampshire voters. Huntsman failed to win the GOP nomination.
7. Martha Coakley's "Massachusettes"—In the race to fill the late Senator Ted Kennedy's seat, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley began as the heavily favored candidate. Unfortunately, her first attack ad against opponent Scott Brown featured a tagline in which her own state was misspelled. The tagline "paid for by Massachusettes Democratic Party" was widely seen and Coakley eventually lost the race to Brown.
8. Pat Buchanan's "conferenece"—When conservative commentator Pat Buchanan called a strategy session to help Republicans form a stronger platform, he angered some by featuring "white nationalist" Peter Brimelow on a panel. Adding to the failure of the event, a large banner announced Buchanan's "2009 National Conferenece" and enumerated panel discussions including one pushing to make English the only official language in the United States. The irony of this particular misspelling was not lost on the media.
9. Rick Santorum's "pubic schedule"—In the heat of the primary campaign, Santorum's staff was eager to advertise the Republican presidential candidate's busy public schedule. Unfortunately, in an e-mail to the press last March, the "L" was left out of "public." Reporters received an e-mail with the bold, uppercase headline: "MEDIA ADVISORY: SANTORUM'S PUBIC SCHEDULE." A corrected version was sent fifteen minutes later, but neither Santorum nor his campaign ever addressed the embarrassing mistake.
10. Rich Whitney's "Whitey"—Among the more unfortunate victims of spelling errors in recent years is Illinois Green Party candidate Rich Whitney. In his unsuccessful bid for governor in 2010, a campaign error produced a misspelling of his last name as "Whitey" on the ballots in 23 wards, half of which were predominantly African American. Although Whitney's campaign was a long-shot from the start, this didn't help his popularity. He appealed to have the ballots corrected but was told it was too late.
What can you learn from these misspellings and grammar errors? Don't rely on spell-check, and don't rush the writing process, even if you are writing only one sentence. And never, ever, skip the editing process. Each politician could have avoided these costly and silly mistakes if they had carefully re-read their sentences. If you think these errors in writing are funny, then I invite you to browse through photos of common misspellings made by businesses at my website.