Washington Virginia Sen. George Allen's "macaca moment," a slip of the tongue that became an unprecedented disaster after it was videotaped and posted online, likely will be replayed - with new dialogue and different candidates - in the 2008 presidential race, political analysts say.
"Delicious things are going to happen," predicted Democratic political consultant James Carville.
Carville, keynote speaker at an annual "American Democracy Conference," co-sponsored by the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said an abundance of smart, strong-willed candidates in both major parties ensures that the nominating contests will be wide open and more closely watched than ever.
And the watchers this time, he suggested, will include hundreds of citizen activists, armed with cell phone cameras ready to catch any awkward moment and misstatement to distribute it through cyberspace.
"It's a 24-hour, interactive (news) cycle now . . . " said John Lapp, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Every single moment can either make or break your election."
At a Republican rally in southwest Virginia last August, a handheld camera caught Allen - then running for a second term in the Senate and preparing his own presidential race - referring to a young Democrat as "Macaca," a racial slur in some cultures.
Allen's taunt was quickly posted among thousands of other amateur videos on the Web site YouTube. A chain of Internet bloggers friendly to Democratic nominee Jim Webb spread word of it on dozens of political sites.
Within a week, hundreds of thousands of people had seen the tape and late-night comics were having a field day at Allen's expense.
Allen, who led Webb by 16 percentage points in a poll taken before the incident, eventually lost to the Democrat by just more than 9,000 votes.
The tape and S.R. Sidarth, the University of Virginia student targeted by Allen's statement who recorded it, "changed an election, changed control of the Senate," Lapp said.