Romney plane
“When you have a fire in an aircraft there's no place to go, and you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't. It's a real problem,” said Mitt Romney (Reuters)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has topped an embarrassing few weeks with his breathtaking comments on aircraft windows and his bemusement that they do not open.

"When you have a fire in an aircraft there's no place to go, and you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't. It's a real problem," Romney told an astonished LA Times journalist.

The gaffe was just the latest in a growing catalogue that was fast earning Barack Obama's multimillionaire rival a reputation as a great blunderer.

"I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed." Romney, whose net worth is more than $200m, told jobless people in Florida in 2011.

Romney's communication problem with the worst-off in society has been the leitmotif of his electoral campaign as he has frequently come out with a clumsy quote that reinforces his critics' impression that he is an out-of-touch businessman.

He was taped recently dismissing 47 percent of adult Americans as non-taxpayers who would not vote for him and hastily had to dig himself out of a hole over the divisive comments after they leaked online.

"I like being able to fire people who provide services to me," he told a breakfast forum of the Nashua Chamber of Commerce in New Hampshire.

"I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there," he also said.

He gave his best when he reportedly managed to turn his American dream motto into a tongue-twister hit in January.

"I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that's the America millions of Americans believe in. That's the America I love," he said.

Romney is not the only US presidential candidate or even president to make a fool of himself and in doing so providing the world with unforgettable embarrassing moments.

In 1976, during a televised presidential debate with Jimmy Carter, president Gerald Ford revealed confusion about the cold war enemy, the USSR, and its borders.

"There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration," he said. At the time, the whole of eastern Europe as far as the borders of West Germany and Austria were under the Kremlin sway.

Jimmy Carter himself left a lot of Americans speechless when, interviewed by Playboy, he said: "I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognises, that I will do and have done, and God forgives me for it. But that doesn't mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock."

In 1982 even a president as used to addressing an audience as former actor Ronald Reagan could fluff his lines to the dismay of his audience.

At a banquet in Brazil with then Brazilian president Joáo Figueiredo, Reagan raised his glass and offered a toast "to the people of Bolivia," before faking a cough and correcting himself saying: "That's where I'm going [next]".

The king of gaffes is undoubtedly George W Bush.

In his eight-year presidency Bush collected an unprecedented number of awkward moments, creeping out German chancellor Angela Merkel with an uninvited neck rub at a G8 conference, showing a shockingly bad aptitude for African dancing at a malaria awareness meeting, and trying to flee journalists through a locked door.