The Big 10 with Jeff D'Alessio, July 1, 2018

The Big 10 with Jeff D'Alessio, July 1, 2018

Bruce Rauner isn't the first governor to wish life came with rewind and delete buttons. Given his slight of Champaign-Urbana, we asked politicians near and far: What's the line you wanted to take back soon after saying it?

From UI Urbana campus dropout to history-making legislator: In 1993, she became Congress' first female African-American senator and the first female U.S. senator from Illinois

"If I knew then what I know now, my list of gaffes and faux pas would not be as long as I have had to admit.

"The incident that makes me most ashamed of my conduct happened during my ill-fated run for mayor of Chicago. I took the bait from another candidate, got really angry, and had a public meltdown that left me humiliated and not vindicated.

"The moment it happened, my brain said to itself that anger is the devil's language, but it was not enough to stop my mouth, which was moving at its own accord. I am ashamed of the incident — even now."

Colorado governor (2007-11)

"It was during my campaign for district attorney of Denver in 1996. I was the incumbent, and the challenger, Craig Silverman, had left the DA's office to run against me. It was a hard-fought, and at times, brutal campaign.

"The Saturday before the election, I was beyond the point of being fatigued, but my campaign manager insisted I go to a popular bowling alley and shake hands.

"In the first five minutes, I come up to a couple who are putting their bowling shoes on. I introduce myself as Bill Ritter, Denver's DA. The young man looks up at me and shakes my hand. His companion, however, does not look up, nor extend any courtesy. I immediately assume that she must be a Silverman supporter.

"As her male companion watched this awkward interaction, he finally said, 'She's blind. She really can't even see your hand.' Happy that she wasn't a Silverman supporter, I blurted out, 'Oh, good.'

"My campaign manager, who was with me, said, 'Do you realize that you just said it was good that that woman is blind?' I knew then that I was too tired to carry on. My whole team put on bowling shoes and retreated to an open lane."

Oklahoma governor (1995-2003)

"My crash-and-burn moment came when a college student asked how I should best handle the unrelenting attacks from the state's teachers union.

"With a grin and an explosion of laughter from the audience after my comment, I said 'homicide.'

"Of course, you cannot physically kill a union. In retrospect, it was an unfunny and dumb comment. I quickly apologized, but it did create a tempest."

Danville's mayor since 2003

"Early in my tenure as mayor, I was invited to speak to a neighborhood association. They are mostly senior, and I was anxious to share with them my enthusiasm for all the assets this great community has to offer.

"I especially wanted to share with them my love for the parks and hopefully would excite them about using these wonderful facilities in our city. I wanted them to know about the pavilions, the playgrounds and spraygrounds, the stages, all of the special events, and I also wanted to talk about some of the fun people you will meet while walking through our parks.

"I was all excited to verbally introduce them to one gentleman who goes around the park, picks up walnuts and shares them with others.

"Unfortunately, what I said to the group was, 'And you will not want to miss the guy who walks through the park grabbing your nuts.'

"Needless to say, I was horribly embarrassed, and everyone had a good laugh. I did, however, see more of them using the parks in the weeks that followed, so maybe my effort to promote our assets paid off."

New Mexico governor (1987-91)

"President Jimmy Carter had established a 55-mile-an-hour speed limit on interstate highways to conserve energy. Everyone out here hated it, and most ignored it. The Congress overrode a President Reagan veto, which for reasons I forget eliminated the 55-mile-an-hour restriction.

"I quickly ask the transportation cabinet member to get out some of the old 65-miles-per-hour signs, and we would do a press availability where he and I would actually change one of the signs.

"Made national news. The problem: it was, to my knowledge, my one and only illegal act. You are not supposed to change speed limits without an 'environmental impact statement.' For three days, we had a stretch of highway between Santa Fe and Las Vegas that both the speeders and I were in the wrong."

Douglas Co. Board (2002-14)

"When I was Douglas County Republican chairman many years ago, we had my first big dinner in the Tuscola Community Building, which had absolutely no acoustics. Jim Ryan was our speaker. I knew he was Irish and liked bagpipes, so I blissfully hired a bagpipe player.

"As I was talking to Jim, a lady came up to me and said the bagpipe music hurt her ears, and we should stop the racket. I responded by saying, 'I picked him, I paid him, and he will play.' Whereupon she spun on her heel and stocked off.

"To save face, after a five-minute wait, I asked the piper to take it out to the entryway that was separated from the auditorium. It was a learning experience, and the next year I had a string quartet in formal wear playing Gershwin."

Senior adviser to three presidents, ran three times himself

"'How would you handle the homeless?' a reporter inquired at the Sperling Breakfast in D.C., very near Christmas Eve 1991.

"I replied: 'I don't think the homeless in Santa Monica are the responsibility of George Bush or Ronald Reagan. In places like New York, a lot of these homeless folks are stabbing people to death. They should be taken off the streets.'

"'Suppose they persist,' the reporter pressed. So, I gave him the lede he was looking for. 'I would put them up for the night, and if they kept doing it, I would pick them up for vagrancy and lock 'em up.'

"Buchanan: Jail Those Who Stay Homeless, screamed the Scripps Howard News Service headline.

"What I had meant was, while many, if not most, of the homeless, are men and women who are down and out, and need food and shelter, some — like the insane man who had stabbed a woman to death in Central Park — are deranged, drug addicts or ex-cons who prey on the innocent.

"The distinction was lost. What I had scheduled for weeks, a Christmas Eve visit to a homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Manchester, N.H., now appeared an act of contrition — Pat Buchanan in abject apology before the homeless, like Henry IV praying in the snow at Canossa for a papal absolution.

"'I favor restricting people like Patrick Buchanan to certain specific areas — mental hospitals,' said Carol Fennelly, longtime companion of homeless advocate Mitch Snyder."

Chicago native, Massachusetts governor (2007-15)

"As The Bard said, 'Let me count the ways ...'"

Champaign mayor (1987-99)

"In 1995, in becoming the first mayor of Champaign to have won three consecutive terms, I got a call from a News-Gazette reporter wanting to know how it felt. My response, as I recall, was: 'How would you feel? In winning in Champaign, I got fewer votes than the loser in the mayor's race in Danville.'

"In 2002, just over two years after I left the mayor's job, redistricting made the state senate seat locally winnable for a Democrat for the first time in many years. My support was for a popular attorney; alas, he declined; the local Democrats in Champaign and Vermilion counties unfortunately chose me. The campaign was the worst experience in my political career; I wasn't cut out to be part of a political machine.

"Though I lost by the slimmest of margins, even before the vote, my wife, Jeanie, and I decided that I would be better off losing."

Colorado governor (1999-2007)

"For fun, Google 'Governor Owens. All of Colorado is burning.'"

(That line, spoken to reporters to describe his aerial view of a 2002 western Colorado wildfire led to Owens being blamed for driving away tourists).

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