TALLAHASSEE, FL—In a campaign gaffe that could potentially jeopardize Sen. Barack Obama's White House bid, the Democratic presidential nominee told nearly 8,000 supporters Tuesday that, if elected, he would be a terrible president.
The blunder, captured by all major media outlets and broadcast live on CNN, occurred when the typically polished Obama fielded a question about his health care policy. Obama answered by saying he would give small business owners a tax credit to help them provide health care for their employees, and then added, "Now, I'm not completely certain that my plan would work because, overall, I think I would make a bad president."
According to sources, before those on hand could fully process what Obama had said, the Illinois senator continued to stumble, claiming that, were he to win the general election, he'd have absolutely no idea what to do.
"My youth and inexperience would definitely make me an awful president," said Obama, whose seven-minute misstep was further exacerbated when he called himself "no expert" on the economy. "To be perfectly honest, I'd be worried about putting me in charge of the most powerful military in the world because I'm not any good when it comes to making important decisions. Also, I'm not sure how much I care about keeping this great nation of ours safe."
"I'm an elitist, I hate Israel, and I want to lose the war in Iraq," Obama concluded, and then, seemingly unaware of the magnitude of his blunder, smiled, gave a thumbs-up to the stunned crowd, and urged his supporters to get out and vote on Nov. 4.
Immediately following the speech, Obama campaign officials released a written statement alleging that their candidate's comments had been taken out of context. In addition, Obama's top adviser David Axelrod claimed that the senator was quoting former president Abraham Lincoln when he said, "I am not the guy to head the executive branch of the United States government. Trust me. I'm really not."
Beltway observers agreed that the gaffe could come back to haunt Obama on Election Day.
"This might very well be the sound bite voters have in their heads when they step inside that booth on Tuesday," ABC political analyst George Stephanopoulos said. "It's just not the message you want to send to voters when you are up in the polls. Saying that you would make a bad president, especially when your entire campaign has been built around the idea that you would make a good president, doesn't play well with independent and undecided voters."
"Also, swing states like Ohio and Florida have historically leaned toward the nominee who thinks he'd be a good president, rather than the nominee who thinks he'd 'probably just screw everything up worse,'" Stephanopoulos added.
An analysis of historical documents supports Stephanopoulos' claim, and confirms that the past 55 winning presidential candidates—with the exception of a dying Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944—all strongly maintained they would be good or great presidents throughout their campaigns, and never hinted otherwise.
"I think Sen. Obama may have opened up a slight window for John McCain here," New York Times reporter David Sanger said during Wednesday's taping of Charlie Rose. "If the McCain camp can find some way to exploit this miscue, it could have the potential to be a real game-changer."
However, a CNN poll taken moments after Obama's speech revealed that the candidate's misstep may have simply gotten lost amid the 24-hour news cycle. Though most citizens said they would prefer a candidate who thinks he'd be a good president, 23 percent said they would still vote for someone who thinks he would make an okay president. Furthermore, 35 percent of citizens said they would vote for a nominee who promised to be a serviceable, or even a so-so, president.
Forty-two percent of citizens polled said that, at this point, a "just plain bad" president would also be good enough.
"I am more certain than ever that I will vote for Obama," Windham, NH resident James Kilner said. "This is the first time I have really connected with a candidate, mainly because I think I would make a pretty bad president, too."
As of press time, the McCain camp has yet to respond to the potentially damaging blunder. However, many feel this is exactly what the Arizona senator needed following a mistake he made earlier in the week when he said that "a vote for McCain is a vote for mass genocide."