Presidential campaigns sometimes turn on big moments that help voters ponder the central question they have about every challenger: What would this person actually be like as president?
These aren’t the same as gaffes, which are slips of the tongue that may be politically damaging but say little about the candidates except that they misspoke.
In 1964, Barry Goldwater ardently defended extremism. In 1984, Walter Mondale said he would raise taxes. In 2008, John McCain suspended his campaign to work on the economic crisis and then offered no solutions for it. They all lost.I’m talking instead about critical moments of miscalculation — often made in desperation — that illuminate important truths about a politician.
Now we have Mitt Romney, with astonishingly poor timing, trying to profit politically from tragic events in the Middle East. His remarks on Libya and Egypt at a news conference in Jacksonville, Florida, might or might not hurt his chances with pivotal independent voters in November. But we do know that he has managed to be simultaneously unpresidential, untruthful and unwise.