Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Scott Brown speaks to supporters after winning the Republican primary in Concord, New Hampshire on Sep. 9, 2014.
Brian Snyder/Reuters

The 7 biggest gaffes of the 2014 midterms

Every election cycle is filled with political gaffes and blunders – and the lead-up to the 2014 midterms is no exception.

With just days until voters cast their ballots – and with the control of the Senate still very much up in the air – here’s a look back at some of the biggest missteps this season. From mispronouncing a candidate’s name, to forgetting which state they are running in, some of these endorsers and potential lawmakers probably wish they could take back a few of their words. 

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Rick Scott: The fuss about the fan

Incumbent Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott was the butt of several jokes earlier this month after he refused for about five minutes to take the stage at a debate – all because of a small fan placed at Democratic opponent Charlie Crist’s podium.

Scott argued the fan violated debate rules. Meanwhile, Crist stood on stage alone and tried to get a few talking points in. So-called “fangate” gave Crist campaign fodder to paint his opponent as “ridiculous” and even make a fundraising plea: In exchange for donating $5 or more, supporters received a paper fan saying “I’m a fan of Charlie Crist.”

Michelle Obama: What’s his name again?

The first lady had a major oops moment on the campaign trail in October when she was stumping for Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley in Iowa. She repeatedly called him “Bailey” before being corrected by the audience. “What did I say? I’m losing it. I’m getting old,” Michelle Obama said. She continued to try and shrug it off, saying, “That’s why we need you young people. You’ve got to help us out.” It’s probably safe to say Braley was not amused.

Alison Lundergan Grimes: I won’t tell you who I voted for

The Democratic Senate candidate in  Kentucky has been criticized on all sides for refusing to say whether she voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. She recently told the editorial board of the Louisville Courier-Journal that she would keep quiet because, “I respect the sanctity of the ballot box.” Obama remains deeply unpopular in her state, and Grimes has tried to distance herself from the president on a number of issues, including guns, coal and the Environmental Protection Aagency.


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During a recent debate, Grimes doubled down on her remarks, to which her opponent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared there is “no sacred right to announce how we vote.”

Critics say Lundergan Grimes remarks give the impression that she’s trying to play voters for a fool.

Scott Brown: Where am I?

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican, is trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire. He’s trying to convince voters that Shaheen’s claim that he is a carpetbagger –after changing his primary residency from Massachusetts to New Hampshire – isn’t true. 

But Scott didn’t do himself any favors last year – before he officially announced his bid – when he briefly forgot where he was. At a dinner with local Republican groups in the Granite State, Brown was asked if he was going to run for Shaheen’s Senate seat. “What I’ve heard from the Republicans up here is they’re thankful that I’ve been around for a year helping them raise money, helping them raise awareness as to the issues that are effecting not only people here in Massachusetts – uh, in New Hampshire, but also in Massachusetts obviously…”

Bruce Braley: Sen. Grassley is a ‘farmer’ with no law degree

The Democrat running for an open Senate seat in Iowa was caught on tape earlier this year trashing the state’s other senator, Republican Chuck Grassley. Speaking at a fundraiser, Braley, referring to Grassley, said the Senate could end up with a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Grassley is one of the most popular lawmakers in the state, and the comment was viewed as an insult to Iowa’s many farmers. Braley later apologized.

Pat Roberts: I go back to Kansas ‘every time I get an opponent’

Critics have questioned Republican Sen. Pat Roberts’ true residency – and for spending more time in Virginia and Washington than in his home state. It certainly didn’t help Roberts when he had a slip of the tongue on a radio show saying, “Every time I get an opponent – I mean, a chance – I come home to Kansas.”

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Roberts’ race against independent candidate Greg Orman is considered a toss-up.

Lenar Whitney: Climate change is ‘the greatest deception in the history of mankind’

Louisiana state Rep. Lenar Whitney, a Republican who’s running for Congress in Louisiana, has claimed global warming is a hoax.

In a bizarre campaign video, she says, “Quite inconveniently for Al Gore and the rest of the politicians who continue to advance this delusion, any 10-year-old can invalidate their thesis with one of the simplest scientific devices known to man.” Whitney then pulls out a thermometer and claims the world is actually getting colder.

Politifact rated the claim as “pants on fire,”  pointing to the overwhelming consensus among scientists that human-caused global warming is very real.