WASHINGTON, July 20 (UPI) -- Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama have made a series of gaffes in their respective campaigns for U.S. president, observers say.
The Arizona Republic reported Sunday that both presidential candidates have sought to avoid the occasional flub, but that is sometimes hard to do, especially for weary candidates busy on the campaign trail.
The newspaper reported that embarrassing gaffes such as when McCain last week referred to the Czech Republic by its previous name, Czechoslovakia, or when Obama, the Illinois senator who is the presumptive Democratic nominee, said he had visited 57 states, really don't damage candidates.
But misstatements that potentially feed criticism of the candidate can do real damage, such as when McCain, the Arizona senator who expected to get the Republican Party's nod, called Social Security financing "an absolute disgrace" and when Obama dismissively called a woman TV reporter "sweetie" in public.
"Most of these are one-day stories unless they feed into the dominant questions about the candidate," said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "Once there's a storyline, everybody in the media is ready to see that next example."