Viral Videos That Derailed Political Careers

Viral moments and ads that wounded and ended some political careers.

ByABC News
December 12, 2013, 2:26 PM
Rick Perry appears in his "Strong" advertisement, which debuted on his official YouTube account Dec 6, 2011.
Rick Perry appears in his "Strong" advertisement, which debuted on his official YouTube account Dec 6, 2011.

Dec. 12, 2013— -- Rep. Ann Kuster became the latest politician to be lampooned because of a gaffe caught on camera. And some of those gaffes have derailed campaigns and careers.

Kuster, D-NH., became an internet star this week for bungling a question about Benghazi, Libya, stammering that she wanted to keep the questions focused on the Middle East.

"Libya, is like, right in the middle of the Middle East," yells a man in the audience.

The Kuster video has been viewed over 200,000 in two days.

Kuster has plenty of company among politicians whose taped words have been used against them.

Mitt Romney

Less than two months before the Nov. 2012 election, Mitt Romney's campaign was torpedoed thanks to an undercover video taken a private fundraiser, which featured controversial remarks from the Republican presidential candidate:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what"

"...who depend upon government, who believe they are victims…and so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

The "47 percent" comment took over the focus of the presidential race and forced Romney onto the defensive. Romney later acknowledged during a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace that "there's no question" the comments "did real damage to my campaign."

Christine O' Donnell

Tea party activist Christine O'Donnell successfully landed the Republican candidacy for the 2010 race for Vice President Biden's Delaware Senate seat, but her campaign took a turn thanks to, well, a little bit of witchcraft.

Comedian Bill Maher aired a 1999 clip of O'Donell on his then-show "Politically Incorrect" in 2010, featuring her admitting, "I dabbled into withcraft," and telling a story about having a "midnight picnic on a satanic altar."

O'Donell responded with a 30-second ad in which she states:

"Macaca or whatever his name is…Let's give a welcome to Macaca, welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

The video was quickly mocked and parodied, even getting the "Saturday Night Live" treatment.

O'Donnell, who later admitted in an interview with ABC's Jon Karl that her "intention to kill the witchcraft commentary had backfired," lost in the general election to Democrat Chris Coons.

Former Republican Sen. George Allen lost reelection in 2006 after his campaign in Virginia was derailed by one word: "Macaca."

The viral video features Allen introducing S. R. Sidharth, then a 20-year-old field tracker for Democratic nominiee Jim Webb, pointing at him and saying,

Sidharth, who is of Indian ancestry, was born and raised in Fairfax, Va.

Allen was heavily criticized for the term, identified as a racial slur. The campaign got caught in a slew of excuses, with Allen first claiming he had heard his staff use it in reference to Sidharth, the staff claiming the word was used in reference to Sidhath's Mohawk haircut, and Allen later saying he had never heard the term before and had made it up on the spot.

Allen, a former congressman and governor, lost to Webb by less than 10,000 votes.

Allen West

Another Allen got into hot water when the Republican congressman from Florida got caught on video, during a Florida town hall meeting, saying he believed "there's 78-81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party."

When West was asked to name them, he said, "It's called the Congressional Progressive Caucus."

West's comments angered many on the left, including Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, who said "not even Joe McCarthy would have said anything so stupid."

Six months later West, who said he did not regret the comment "whatsoever," lost the seat to Democrat Patrick Murphy by 2,146 votes.

Rick Perry

Rick Perry, and his jacket, became the butt of late-night mockery thanks to a campaign ad he released in December 2011 while campaigning for the Republican presidential candidacy.

In the clip Perry says "there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas in school."

The ad, viewed almost 9 million times on YouTube, was heavily parodied including with videos made by major comedy content creators National Lampoon and Funny or Die, and helped derail Perry's primary campaign.