- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Race for the White House produces two things: lots of attack ads and unwitting overnight celebrities. Think Sister Souljah. Joe the Plumber. Clint Eastwood’s empty chair. With election season again upon us, The Washington Times continues its series remembering some of our favorite campaign one-hit wonders and asking: Where are they now?

Then: A 12-year-old boy from New Jersey, William Figueroa, correctly spelled “potato” in a mock spelling bee in 1992 — only to have Vice President Dan Quayle urge him via flash card to add an “e” to the end of the word. The rest is late-night talk show monologue history.

Now: William enjoyed a brief burst of celebrity — appearing on David Letterman, endorsing a spelling video game, leading the Pledge of Allegiance at the 1992 Democratic National Convention — but has since receded into ordinary life: In 2005, the Newark Star-Ledger reported that he was a Wal-Mart department manager and father of two.

Quotable (I): “It was more than a gaffe,” Mr. Quayle later wrote in his memoir. “It was a defining moment of the worst imaginable kind. I can’t overstate how discouraging and exasperating the whole event was.”

Quotable (II): Said William about what was going through his head following Mr. Quayle’s assistance: “I kept thinking, ‘How the hell did I spell potato wrong?’ “

• Patrick Hruby can be reached at phruby@washingtontimes.com.

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