In the age of the Internet, a misspoken sentence can sink a political career at the speed of a tweet—or at least set back a campaign so far it's tough to recover. And since the bite-sized portion of what goes for news on the Web doesn't leave room for "context" the blunders often take on a life of their own and remain in countless spin-offs as "facts."
Below is a round up of the top 10 political gaffes that hurt congressmen, presidential candidates, and the White House in 2012:
1. "Legitimate rape" and what "God intended"
First, Republican Missouri Rep. Todd Akin said in an interview while running for Missouri Senate that in "a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Then, Republican Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said that if a woman becomes pregnant after being raped, it was "something that God intended to happen."
Though Akin's remark was more damaging, both gaffes were met with derision by voters—and both men lost the races they had previously been favored to win.
2. The "47 percent"
At a fundraiser in May, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was caught on camera saying that "47 percent" of Americans were dependent on the government. "These are people who pay no income tax," he said. The surreptitious video went viral after it was posted to the liberal site Mother Jones, and is believed to have had a serious negative impact on Romney's election.
3. "More flexibility"
A hot mic caught President Barack Obama in March telling outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have "more flexibility" to handle a dispute over missile defense after the American presidential election was over. Romney later mocked the exchange.
4. Campaign attacks "nauseating"
Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker was accused of going off message in May after he criticized the Obama campaign's attacks on Romney on television as "nauseating." Republicans responded by creating an "I Stand With Cory Booker" campaign.
5. "You didn't build that"
At a July appearance in Roanoke, Va., President Obama described how businesses rely on public infrastructure by saying: "You didn't build that"—a sound bite that provided fodder for the opposition for months. A number of business owners said the comment offended them, including one Virginia bakery that refused to serve Vice President Joe Biden while he was on the campaign trail.