On the campaign trail in Iowa, Marco Rubio tossed a gentle football pass downfield to a young fan.
The throw was right on the mark -- if Rubio was aiming for the kid's face. He pegged the boy between the eyes and dropped him to the ground.
It's not a particularly good look when you're trying to get the job of Leader of the Free World. Then again, that kid wasn't exactly Randy Moss. Rubio launched a pretty accurate toss and was, in fairness, let down by his receiver:
— Bloomberg Politics (@bpolitics) August 18, 2015
The kid wound up fine, so no need to worry about him. Instead, Rubio will surely get some ribbing for his role in the minor accident, though we should emphasize that the kid's receiving form was hardly textbook.
Sports are a popular arena to curry favor with voters on the political campaign trail. Sometimes, as Rubio found out, it backfires. In the grand scheme, though, Rubio's error is far from the transgressions of other politicians in the recent past.
Take the 2004 general election, where John Kerry visited both Ohio and Michigan on successive days. That led to a little confusion, and Kerry's decision to tell a crowd of many staunch Wolverines supporters that, "I just go for Buckeye football."
Or there's the time George H.W. Bush invited the 1991 Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, to the White House -- where he had to ask Mario Lemieux who he was.
Or there's the time Ted Kennedy introduced Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa as "Mike McGwire and Sammy Sooser."
The point is this: Politicians stick their feet in their mouths all the time, and the sports world is often something of a minefield.
As for Rubio, though, his particular faux pas looks less like past political slips-of-tonuge and more like this memorable SNL skit featuring Peyton Manning:
The lesson: Little kids can't be counted on downfield.