Rick Santorum’s outburst at a New York Times reporter, whose questions he called “bullshit,” prompted gasps of horror from Mitt Romney’s campaign, which suggested such behavior was unbecoming of a presidential contender. But Santorum’s hardly the first guy to blow up at a reporter or drop some salty language.
There’s actually a grand tradition of candidates blowing up at reporters, gratuitously using profanity, or combining the two, in public and private. In fact, there are so many examples that we were able to compile an entire video highlight reel.
A lot of the instances were caught unintentionally or discovered only years after the fact. Richard Nixon’s White House tapes, for example, are a treasure trove of curses and threats, including the president ripping the “bastards” in the Supreme Court and that “terrible old bag” Katharine Graham of the Washington Post. President George W. Bush famously was caught on an open mic during the 2000 campaign pointing out “major league asshole” Adam Clymer of the New York Times to running mate Dick Cheney. Vice President Joe Biden’s pronouncement at the Affordable Care Act signing that the event was a “big fucking deal” became so iconic that the campaign printed T-shirts — abbreviating the phrase down to BFD.
But plenty of candidates have willingly sworn in public, for all to hear. Donald Trump, who last year led polls at one point in the GOP presidential race, addressed the Chinese as “you motherfuckers” in a speech. In 2010, Carl Paladino, the GOP nominee for governor of New York, flipped out on columnist Fred Dicker, threatening to “take you out, buddy!”
Catching Obama, usually unflappable to the point of parody, blowing up is tougher. But when it comes to cursing, he made catching him in the act easy by recording an audiobook of his memoirs in which he acted out one character’s ultra-blue dialogue himself.
So without further ado, please enjoy our compendium of politicians hurling insults, swearing, or just generally freaking out.