A political gaffe is an error made by a politician that is reported to the public. When made by a politician who is campaigning for office or party leadership, gaffes can affect standings in polls. While in office the opposition can refer to them in governmental debates over policy. Gaffes can be classified in different types.
A Kinsley gaffe occurs when a political gaffe reveals some truth that a politician did not intend to admit. The term comes from journalist Michael Kinsley, who said, "A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn't supposed to say."
The term gaffe may be used to describe an inadvertent statement by a politician that the politician believes is true while the politician has not fully analyzed the consequences of publicly stating it. Another definition is a statement made when the politician privately believes it to be true, realizes the dire consequences of saying it, and yet inadvertently utters, in public, the unutterable. Another definition is a politician's statement of what is on his or her mind—this may or may not be inadvertent—thereby leading to a ritualized 'gaffe dance' between candidates. While exhibiting umbrage or shock, and playing on the mistake, the 'offended candidate' must not exhibit anything resembling glee. A propensity to concentrate on so-called 'gaffes' in campaigns has been criticized as a journalistic device that can lead to distraction from real issues.[A] The Kinsley gaffe is said to be a species of the general 'political gaffe.'
Kinsley himself posed the question: "Why should something a politician says by accident automatically be taken as a better sign of his or her real thinking than something he or she says on purpose?"
Memorable gaffes by country
- On August 12, 2013, at a Liberal Party function in Melbourne as part of the 2013 Federal Election campaign, Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, criticising Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, said "No one, however smart, however well-educated, however experienced, is the suppository of all wisdom." The word he meant was "repository". It did not take long for the clip of Mr Abbott's gaffe to be featured on the websites of some of the world's biggest news organisations.
- The Central Election Commission showed Ilham Aliyev to be winning with 72.76% of the vote via the Commission's official smartphone app a day before voting had even started for the 2013 elections.
- "Air pollution is the smell of money" – Philip Gaglardi.
- Pierre Trudeau and the fuddle duddle incident, 1971
- Jacques Parizeau's 'money and the ethnic vote' speech, 1995
- Peter MacKay calling his ex-girlfriend Belinda Stronach a dog after she joined the opposition party.
- "Evil reptilian kitten eater from another planet" – Ontario general election, 2003
- Winston Churchill's election broadcast in the campaign for the 1945 general election in which he suggested that the Labour Party would create "some form of a Gestapo" to implement their reforms.
- John Major calling some of his cabinet ministers bastards.
- Gordon Brown referring to a member of the public as a "bigoted woman" during an election campaign.
- "Everyone will give their best for a poorer country" – Prime Minister José Sócrates.
- The Gerald Ford Soviet Domination answer.
- "I see nothing wrong with ethnic purity being maintained" – Jimmy Carter
- The Jimmy Carter "Lust in the Heart" interview 
- We begin bombing in five minutes. – A joke by Ronald Reagan in a sound check prior to his weekly radio address that was later leaked.
- The Vision thing.
- Legitimate rape, Todd Akin, United States Senate election in Missouri, 2012
- Rick Perry's "Oops moment"
- 47% speech by Mitt Romney
- Barack Obama visited 57 states
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- "Jimmy Carter's 'Lust in the Heart' Playboy Interview". Washington Post. July 21, 1998. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
- "Obama Claims He's Visited 57 States".