April 28, 2010 / 2:37 PM / 8 years ago

Factbox: Some off microphone gaffes

(Reuters) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was caught on tape describing a voter as “bigoted” after she confronted him on the economy and immigration during an election campaign walkabout in northern England.

The comments are a rare gaffe in what has been a tightly scripted and choreographed campaign for all the main political parties ahead of May 6 elections.

Here are some other famed off microphone mistakes


-- U.S. President Ronald Reagan quipped before a radio address to the nation in 1984 at the height of the Cold War. His comments were broadcast live.

-- “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.”


-- Conservative Prime Minister John Major called cabinet members opposed to the European Community Maastricht treaty “bastards” in an “off-the-record” chat with a television reporter.

-- Major, regarded by many as a colorless character dogged by indecision, bantered about his struggle to secure approval of the Maastricht treaty and asked with heavy self-irony: “Why does such a complete wimp like me keep winning?.”


-- In an interview at a local school that he thought was confidential, Conservative member of parliament David Evans said Melanie Johnson, Labour’s contender for his constituency, had “never done a proper job” and was the mother of “three bastard children.”

-- Evans, a self-made millionaire, went on to describe Prime Minister John Major as “vindictive and not forgiving” and used the phrase “black bastard” when discussing crime. The transcript of his interview was given to a regional television station.


-- Bush did not realize his comments at a campaign stop in Naperville, Illinois, were picked up on the microphone when he leaned over to running mate Dick Cheney and said: “There’s Adam Clymer, major-league asshole from the New York Times.”

-- The Republican nominee later said he regretted everyone heard his comment but sidestepped a question about whether he would apologize to the journalist.

* GEORGE W. BUSH - 2006:

-- Bush’s candid remark to British Prime Minister Tony Blair was picked up by an open microphone during the closing lunch at the G8 summit in Russia.

-- In the remarks, he expressed his frustration with the United Nations, Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel and the group’s backers in Syria.

-- “See, the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s---, and it’s over,” Bush told Blair as he chewed on a buttered roll.


-- “That was a disaster,” Brown was heard saying as he got into a car after speaking to a vote, still wearing a broadcast microphone. “Whose idea was that? It’s ridiculous.”

-- When asked what the voter had said, Brown said: “Everything, she’s just sort of a bigoted woman.”

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit

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