Say Cheese! 6 Political Photo Ops that Failed

PHOTO: Paul and Janna Ryan
Mary Altaffer/AP Photo

Paul Ryan and his family posed for pictures while cleaning pots and pans at a soup kitchen Saturday, never knowing the appearance would lead to questions from the press. But Ryan's failed photo op pales in comparison with some political bloopers of the past.

Read on to see whose campaign was steamrolled by a photo shoot with a tank, how Newt Gingrich took the etch-a-sketch metaphor to another level and what John Kerry was doing in full-body scrubs.

Michael Dukakis

PHOTO: This Sept. 13, 1988 file photo shows Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as he gets a free ride in one of General Dynamics' new M1-A-1 battle tanks at its land systems division in Sterling Heights, Mich.
Michael E. Samojeden/AP Photo
This Sept. 13, 1988 file photo shows Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as he gets a free ride in one of General Dynamics' new M1-A-1 battle tanks at its land systems division in Sterling Heights, Mich.
1988 General Election

Hoping to improve voters' opinions of his stance on defense, Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis posed for a video and photo op atop an M1 tank. But rather than buoy his campaign, that decision sunk it.

George Bush Sr.'s campaign ran an ad with the footage of a helmet-wearing Dukakis grinning and waving under a man's voice accusing the former Massachusetts governor of being soft on defense.

George W. Bush

PHOTO: George W. Bush in flight suit
Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images
President George W. Bush gives a thumbs-up after landing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, May 1, 2003.
2004 General Election

Before his infamous "mission accomplished" speech, President George W. Bush flew into the USS Abraham Lincoln aboard a jet. The appearance was meant to bolster American attitudes towards the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but photos of the commander-in-chief in a flight suit were later used to mock the president and even inspired a Top Gun George W. Bush Action Figure.

John Kerry

PHOTO: John Kerry
NASA via Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., wearing a clean suit, crawls through a hatch while touring space shuttle Discovery at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., July 26, 2004.
2004 General Election

In late July 2004, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry donned a light-blue spacesuit for a tour of NASA. But when the photos came out and Kerry was mocked as looking silly in a "bunny suit," the campaign complained that NASA leaked them, implying it was for political purposes.

When members of the GOP started handing out the unflattering photos of Kerry, The Associated Press said they were trying to "pull a Dukakis," a reference to the tank photos that flattened another Massachusetts Democrat in the 1980s.

Sarah Palin

PHOTO: Sarah Palin
ABC News
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin does an interview with local TV station in Wasilla, as a turkey is slaughtered in the background.
2008 Post- Election

In November 2008, Republicans lost the general election, freeing former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to return to her duties as governor of Alaska. Less than a month after election day, Palin fulfilled her duty as governor by pardoning one of the state's Thanksgiving turkeys.

As if her excuses for the pardoning weren't bizarre enough, the interview that followed landed Palin squarely back on the radar of political bloggers. While the governor talked on about what was next for her, a man in the background could be seen slaughtering one of the birds not fortunate enough to receive Palin's pardon.

Newt Gingrich

PHOTO: Newt Gingrich
Michael Conti/The Houma Daily Courier/AP Photo
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich holds an Etch A Sketch in the mouth of a plastic alligator head at Big Al's Seafood Restaurant, March 22, 2012, in Houma, La.
2012 Republican Primary

During a campaign stop at a restaurant about an hour away from New Orleans, one of Newt Gingrich's aides handed the candidate an Etch-a-Sketch. Playing on a comment a Mitt Romney strategist made about elections being like the childhood toy -- everything from the primaries erased to start fresh for the general race -- Gingrich put the toy between the jaws of a plastic alligator.

"There's a Louisiana treatment of an Etch-a-Sketch!" Gingrich said, as he delivered a critique of Romney's record as Massachusetts governor.

The stunt was meant to detract from Romney's momentum, but instead it took away from Gingrich's efforts to portray himself as a serious threat to the more-moderate Republican.

After the election in Louisiana, most voters told The Associated Press that the Etch-A-Sketch comment from Romney's aide made little difference in their choice. Romney beat Gingrich in the state's primary by more than 10 percentage points, but Rick Santorum was the overall winner with almost half the votes.

Joe Biden

PHOTO: Vice President Joe Biden visits with patrons over lunch at Cruisers Diner in Seaman, Ohio, Sept. 9, 2012.
Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
Vice President Joe Biden visits with patrons over lunch at Cruisers Diner in Seaman, Ohio, Sept. 9, 2012.
2012 General Election

The Obama campaign often uses Vice President Biden to reach out to voters on an emotional level, but one snapshot on the trail had voters wondering if Biden got a little too close for comfort.

A photographer from The Associated Press caught a shot of Biden snuggling up to a female biker at a diner in Seaman, Ohio. That photo set the Internet buzzing with speculation that Biden had invited the biker to sit on his lap.

The photographer later clarified that the woman was sitting next to Biden at the table -- not on his lap.

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