Published On: Oct 24 2011 10:51:46 AM EDTUpdated On: Oct 31 2014 07:13:13 PM EDT
Late Monday, New York Rep. Michael Grimm announced plans to resign from Congress after pleading guilty to a felony tax evasion charge related to his health food restaurant. Grimm also made national headlines in January 2014, when he threatened a TV reporter on camera who attempted to ask him about the long-running federal investigation, telling Michael Scotto he would throw him off a balcony. Take a look at other political meltdowns, scandals and foot-in-mouth moments.
Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were found guilty in September of federal corruption charges. The 14-count indictment, culminating a lengthy investigation of their relationship with a Virginia business executive, alleges fraud by a public official, false statements, and obstruction.
On Nov. 20, 2013, U.S. Rep. Trey Radel agreed to take a leave of absence and donate his salary after pleading guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession. Authorities said he bought a small amount of cocaine in a sting in the nation's capital last month.
Just days after admitting he had smoked crack cocaine, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford found himself trying to explain a bizarre video that shows the embattled mayor staggering around and making violent threats about some unknown person. Ford was stripped of most of his mayoral powers and his newly launched TV show was canceled after just one episode.
21-term Alaska Rep. Don Young, 79, discussed his father employing "50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes" on his families ranch when he was young. Later the same week, he released a statement explaining the term used to be common when he was growing up, adding, "I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect."
Several politicians announced their changed positions to support same-sex marriage in the weeks leading up to two cases on the subject going before the Supreme Court. There were plenty of others who remained opposed to same-sex marriage, but it was the way Sen. Saxby Chambliss put his opposition that raised eyebrows: "I'm not gay, so I'm not going to marry one."
Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s remarks about pregnancy resulting from "legitimate rape" being rare because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down" resulted in calls from the top Republicans for Akin to drop out of the race. He stayed in, ultimately losing what had been expected to be an easy race for him against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
During the 2012 campaign, a hidden camera at a private fundraiser caught Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney saying 47 percent of Americans would vote for Obama “no matter what” because they "are dependent on government" and believe "that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them." Romney has defended what he said, though acknowledged the remarks were "not elegantly stated."
At the first presidential debate of the 2012 campaign season, it wasn’t so much what President Barack Obama said, but what he didn’t that was the problem. Obama seemed disengaged in the debate and made more than a few Democrats’ jaws drop by not going after Romney on a variety of issues. He recovered, giving better performances at the next two debates and ultimately winning the election.
Fiery New York Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned in June 2011 after tweeting a picture of his boxer-covered genitals to a young woman. The married congressman initially denied knowing whether the photo was of him, but ultimately admitted to and apologized for the incident.
After scoring an upset in the Delaware Senate Republican primary this year, Christine O'Donnell sparred during a debate with Democratic opponent Chris Coons over the First Amendment, saying the separation of church and state isn't in the amendment. Her campaign later clarified that she was trying to make the point that the words "separation of church and state" don't appear in the document. O'Donnell lost the general election.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, famous for her state's anti-immigration measures, suffered what Newsweek called a "brain freeze" during a debate with Democratic opponent state Attorney General Terry Goddard in September 2010. She "offered only vague, nonsensical statements as she giggled and tried to recall her train of thought," the magazine said.
Republican Carl Paladino, running for governor in New York in 2010, had a couple of notable moments during his campaign. Newsweek reported that he was caught on tape threatening to "take out" a columnist from the New York Post. He also gained national attention for comments on how children are "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option." He apologized for the comment but lost the election.
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was a rising star in the Republican Party when he went missing for several days in 2009. He initially claimed he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, but after being caught at the airport, ultimately admitted he was having an affair with a woman in Argentina, who he described as his "soul mate." His wife filed for divorce later that year. Sanford is now running for his old congressional seat, which became empty when Rep. Tim Hass was appointed to the Senate. He is also engaged to his one-time mistress.
John Edwards was a rising star in the Democratic Party when it was discovered he had a child with a campaign videographer during his 2008 presidential campaign. He and wife Elizabeth Edwards separated after news about the affair broke. They never reconciled, but there were reports Edwards was with his estranged wife when she died of breast cancer in 2010.
Some meltdowns go in the politicians' favor, at least in the short term. During the campaign for the New Hampshire primary in 2008, then Sen. Hillary Clinton showed some real emotion in a coffee shop. "This is very personal for me," she said. "Some people think elections are a game, about who's up, who's down. It's about our country." Voters bought it and Clinton won the primary.
Sarah Palin may be the darling of the tea party movement, but a series of interviews she did with Katie Couric as John McCain's running mate in 2008 were less than impressive. She couldn't name any Supreme Court decisions or any periodicals that she read. Clips were watched by millions on YouTube and the interviews were parodied on "Saturday Night Live."
Former President Bill Clinton told off a reporter during his wife's 2008 campaign for president after a question of racism came up. "This hurts the people of South Carolina," Clinton said, adding: "Shame on you."
A grand jury was convened after George Rep. Cynthia McKinney was stopped by a security guard in a House office building. The officer said she struck him in the chest. She said race played a part in her being stopped. She later apologized on the floor of the House for the incident, but lost her re-election campaign.
John F. Kennedy's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, emerged from private life in 2008 and endorsed Barack Obama for president and then maneuvered to be appointed to the New York Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton. But in an interview with The New York Times in which she used the phrase "you know" more than 140 times, she failed to explain her candidacy adequately to some. Soon after the interview, she withdrew from the race and resumed her private life.
In 2006, Republican Sen. George Allen lost his re-election race in Virginia after he called a man who was following his campaign with a camera for his opponent "Macaca." "Let's give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia," Allen said. He later apologized for the statements, but his campaign never recovered.
By far one of the most exciting meltdowns was when presidential hopeful and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean screamed his way out of the 2004 Democratic primaries. After coming in third in the Iowa caucuses, he took to the stage to rally his troops with a list of upcoming primaries. But as he screamed "Yeeeaaahhh!" and punched the air, some viewers at home were more scared than inspired.