On Wednesday morning, it looked as though Gordon Brown might have stalled Cleggmania, inching back into second place in some polls. But then he met Gillian Duffy.
Duffy, a senior citizen and lifelong Labour supporter, bumped into Brown as the prime minister was leaving a meet-and-greet in the town of Rochdale. Duffy told him she was almost ashamed to say she was a Labour voter, and while she would vote for Brown, she had concerns about the national debt, taxes, and immigration. The exchange ended amicably, with Duffy wishing Brown good luck as he climbed into his car. But the prime minister forgot he was wired for sound and lashed out at his aides for allowing Duffy to speak with him. Brown branded the exchange a disaster and called Duffy a "bigoted woman" as his car was leaving the scene.