Say what? Misspeaking candidates fall over themselves to clarify
--Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, defended his five sons' decisions not to enlist in the military and said "one of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected." Later, the Republican said he misspoke, explaining: "I didn't mean in any way to compare service in the country with my boys in any way."
--Giuliani, the New York City mayor during the terrorist attacks, claimed he was at ground zero "as often, if not more, than most of the workers" and was exposed to the same health risks. After drawing the ire of some firefighters, he acknowledged: "I could have said it better" and "What I was saying was: 'I'm there with you.'"
--Richardson, New Mexico's governor, said "It's a choice" and then "you know, I'm not a scientist" when gay-rights activists asked during a forum whether people are born gay or whether they choose homosexuality. He quickly clarified. The Democrat also has said, "I screwed up" when citing conservative Byron White as a model Supreme Court justice.
--John McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona known for is off-the-cuff style, twice has clarified comments. In separate instances, he referred to U.S. lives lost in Iraq as "wasted" and used the term "tar baby," which some people consider a racial epithet. In both cases, he quickly said he regretted his word choice.
--Barack Obama, a Democratic senator from Illinois, also apologized for using the word "wasted" about U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. During a campaign speech in Virginia, he drastically overstated the death toll in the springtime tornado in Kansas, saying, "Ten thousand people died -- an entire town destroyed." The actual death toll was 12.
"There are going to be times when I make mistakes," Obama said then, recognizing his mistake before his speech ended.
Even unofficial candidates are not immune.
Fred Thompson, a Republican expected to enter the race in September, offered an explanation after Democrats assailed him for saying "we're living in the era of the suitcase bomb" as he bemoaned illegal immigration from Cuba.