Presidential PR Blunders

A snapshot of a video of President Ford falling down stairs.

Don’t worry, we’re not gonna talk about that guy. It’d be way too easy. We want to focus on the weird, hilarious and just plain bonkers of our past presidents. Being in the public eye 24/7 means you’re gonna get caught saying or doing something stupid at some point. Isn’t the media great? Imagine if you were followed around by journalists and cameras. They’d totally catch you itching your butt or adjusting yourself.  We digress. Here are our favorite presidential PR blunders. 

Hotdogs and England

Nothing says presidential like serving pig anus to the King and Queen of England. On June 11, 1939 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II visited FDR’s Hyde Park cottage (mansion), which was the first time a king visited a president’s home. They were treated to a picnic where the main course was hotdogs. Gross, just gross.  According to one story, the queen supposedly asked Roosevelt how one ate a hotdog. “Very simple. Push it into your mouth and keep pushing it until it is all gone,” he is said to have told her. She elected to use a knife and fork instead of taking this folksy advice. Don’t worry. The meal was topped off with Cokes and strawberry cake.


Did you know President Gerald R. Ford was a complete and utter klutz? It was apparently such a regular occurrence it became a bit on Saturday Night Live.  One of the president’s most famous falls came on a rainy day in December 1975. Ford was walking down the stairs of Air Force One when he slipped and fell down the remaining steps. We happen to think this makes Bri’s favorite president rather endearing. You’ll have to ask her about the framed photo of him on her desk.


President George W. Bush had so many awkward moments on camera and during interviews they were coined “Bushisms.” There is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to his slip-ups. 
Here are some of our favorites.

  • On August 5, 2004, after taking the stage with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, he made this statement when talking about terrorists. “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”
  • “Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across the country.”—Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004
  • “One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.”—U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 3, 2000
  • “I’ll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office.”—Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008

Hot Mic

You’d think they would be more cautious, but so many presidents have been caught on a hot mic being just a little too honest. Ronald Reagan was asked to speak into a microphone for sound check prior to a 1984 radio broadcast. Joking, he said, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”  Not surprisingly, a recording of his statement was leaked, and let’s just say Soviet forces were sh*tting their pants for a bit. We got a good laugh out of these presidential gaffes…aah simpler times. Boy, if they were only this “scandalous” nowadays.

Need a crisis plan or just some kickass media coverage? Reach out to us, and we’ll entertain you with more PR blunders. 

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