Candidates On Losing Their Tempers

generic primary questions us flag election politics campaign 08

For the series "Primary Questions: Character, Leadership & The Candidates," CBS News anchor Katie Couric asked the 10 leading presidential candidates 10 questions designed to go beyond politics and show what really makes them tick.

For the fifth part of the special series "Primary Questions," Couric asked the candidates: "When was the last time you lost your temper and what came of it?"

In a new CBS News / New York Times poll, 37 percent of Americans say they would vote against a bad-tempered presidential candidate, even if they agreed with that candidate's position on most issues. Fifty-seven percent would still vote for that candidate.

Check out the complete poll results.
Also, check out the candidates' full responses to the previous questions in our "Primary Questions" video library.


Couric: When was the last time you lost your temper and what came of it?

Giuliani: (LAUGHTER) Would have been when the Yankees lost. I think it might have been when the Yankees lost in the (LAUGHTER) in the playoffs. Not only do I occasionally lose my temper, happens with the Giants too. But, then I have a bad day the next day. Judith will tell you that I'm in a much better mood when the Yankees win than when they lose. And football even gets me a little more emotional. Like if there's an interception or something.

Couric: You had a bad day on Monday then?

Giuliani: Agh. (LAUGHTER) And I'm a big, I'm a big Eli Manning fan. And I think there's too much pressure being put on him. I think, I think that I remember days in which even Joe Namath had four or five interceptions. It just happens.

Couric: That was a rough…

Giuliani: It happens.

Couric: …day for him.

Giuliani: It happens.

Couric: Didn't he? What was four or five?

Giuliani: It was four.


Couric: When was the last time you lost your temper and what came of it?

Thompson: Let me see. (LAUGHTER) I don't know. I don't really think I lose my temper. I get aggravated. And, you know, I can say some hateful things sometimes. I don't ever think I lose my temper, lose control. I don't remember I was late to an event. I had a couple days ago, I had a Medal of Honor winner, head of a veteran's group of people who were endorsing me. And when I got there, Columbia, S.C., they were all there, 30 or 40 of 'em, standing there. He was standing there. What a hero. Just to read his background, what he's done. And, we got caught up with the car and the traffic and the direction, that our leader was leading us in and so forth. And we were 15 minutes late to these people, standing there, waiting on me, to honor me with an endorsement after what they have been through and who they were. I had a few things to say about that.

Couric: How did you express your temper in that situation?

Thompson: I said, "Please don't do this again."

Couric: Just like that?

Thompson: I'm kidding. No, no. (LAUGHTER)


Couric: When was the last time you lost your temper and what came of it?

Richardson: I lost my temper last night when I was bone tired and I couldn't find the bathroom light. I'd flown in from New Mexico. And I was in the hotel. And I couldn't find the bathroom light and I got mad and lost my temper.

But thankfully it was just with myself. (LAUGHTER) That was the last time I lost my temper. But I do that frequently. You know, I'm somebody that sometimes needs to cool down my fuses.

Couric: What happens when you lose your temper?

Richardson: Well ... I just get - a little bit of an inner rage. I never - well, sometimes I take it out on people. But it - but it ends quickly. It's because I demand a lot from myself and I expect others to. But that's a little side of me that I'd like to control a little bit.

Praise others a little more. Thank people more. But in the end, sometimes I lose my temper and - and - and yell a little bit.


Couric: When was the last time you lost your temper? And what came of it?

Obama: You know, Michelle, my wife, will tell you that I actually am pretty even-keeled. I don't get mad too often. You know, I think probably the last time I got angry was when I heard about George Bush vetoing the S-chip legislation and just watching that argument unfold. And the reason is because I meet a lot of families who really need help. Every day in this campaign you'll hear folks who can't get insurance for their kids because they've got what is considered a pre-existing condition. And I know what it was like when my daughter when she was three-month-year-old got meningitis and had to go into the hospital. And just the terror in my heart that she might not be okay. But I had health insurance. And I tried to imagine what it would be like if you didn't. And so when I hear people characterize this as, you know, socialized medicine, or we don't need to provide health insurance for folks who they can afford it, you get a sense that there's a part of Washington that's just out of touch with ordinary people. And that gets me, gets me frustrated.

Couric: Anything more pedestrian or banal than that in terms of losing your temper?

Obama: Well, I don't…

Couric: Just your day-to-day life?

Obama: I don't have to, I don't have to drive these days because Secret Service is driving. So my moments of road rage are limited. (LAUGHS) And my girls are perfect. So they don't get me mad.

Couric: You're obviously not home that much.

Obama: Right. You know. If I am mad at Michelle, then she is probably mad at me too. And I'm probably the one who's wrong. And my staff, they've performed well. Sometimes I get mad at myself. You know, I mean, the truth is when I get angry oftentimes it's because I don't feel that I did everything that I could to move the ball forward, to, you know, maybe I, in terms of reaching out to a constituency I didn't I wasn't passionate enough, or I didn't in an interview, I wasn't able to deliver a message that I wanted. I sometimes get frustrated with myself. And that's usually good. Because it spurs me to work a little harder the next time.


Couric: When was the last time you lost your temper? And what came of it?

Huckabee: Really blew my lid type lost my temper? It's been a while since I've gotten to the point of, you know, really throwing things. But, just this morning, I had a little incident where we had a scheduling mess-up. And I was not really happy about it. But I've learned that, it's really, not helpful to scream and yell. And I rarely - ever do that. I just don't. Sometimes, what I will do is maybe send out a rather curt e-mail. And people get the point. (LAUGHS) And that's probably the way I express my outrage, more so than verbally.

Couric: What did you do this morning, when you had the scheduling mishap?

Huckabee: Well, I sent out an e-mail on my Blackberry. And I sent it out to several staff people who were involved. And I said, "This was a humiliating issue where I attended a breakfast today that I had on my calendar for tomorrow." And all these people had assembled and it, there wasn't time on my schedule to get there. So I had to disrupt it and hurry over and spend a few minutes with a group of people who thought they were going to meet me today. And I thought I was going to meet them tomorrow. It was bad. It was (LAUGHS) really bad.

Couric: Were they mad?

Huckabee: Amazingly, they weren't. And they had to be the most gracious people on planet Earth. And all I could do was to go in and just fall all over myself with apologies and express to them my sincere depth of humiliation. And I told them I would all, to every one of them, I would bring pastries to their front door on Christmas Day to make up for it. What else can I do?