(CNN) - A visibly flustered Rick Perry was reduced to "Oops" after a painful 53 seconds of trying to remember the name of the third of three federal agencies he would cut at a Republican presidential debate in Rochester, Michigan, on Wednesday.
Answering a question about jobs creation, Perry attempted to name the three agencies he has proposed shutting. He named two, but could not come up with the third, even after appearing to consult notes.
Perry was facing Texas Rep. Ron Paul as he answered the question.
"I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone," Perry said. "Commerce, Education, and the - what's the third one there? Let's see. OK. Commerce, Education, and the..."
"EPA?" Romney offered off camera.
"EPA, there you go," Perry said.
When pressed by moderator John Harwood if the Environmental Protection Agency was indeed the third agency he proposes shuttering, Perry admitted that it wasn't. He then attempted again to remember the details from his plan.
"The third agency of government I would - I would do away with Education, the Commerce, and, let's see. I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops."
Several minutes later in the debate, Perry clarified that the agency he was trying to remember was the Department of Energy.
Saddled with a series of lackluster debate performances and down in the polls, pundits were quick to predict the stumble was one from which Perry wouldn't be able to recover.
On Twitter, reaction was swift.
"Perry collapses. Cannot remember a list of three federal government departments he wants to abolish past the first two. Seriously. And then he says "oops." He has all but disappeared inside his suit in this debate and is now basically done," conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan tweeted.
CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen wrote, “Was that the most embarrassing moment of the campaign –#RickPerry unable to remember the 3rd Cabinet dept he would eliminate?"
Dana Loesch, a conservative radio host and CNN contributor, asked, "How can Perry recover from that?"
Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Roland Martin exclaimed, "Damn, he actually forgot the third federal agency he would get rid of! That is THE MOST EMBARRASSING moment of any debate I've seen!"
Appearing in the spin room after the debate, the Texas governor tried to make light of the gaffe: "I'm sure glad I had my boots on because I sure stepped in it out there."
–CNN Political Reporter Peter Hamby contributed to this report.
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perry must have thought he was on saturday night live
It was Romney who offered "EPA" – it was Paul who demanded five agencies, not three.
Parry is toast. Probably won't even get tapped for VP ... Cain's a washout for that spot, too... Rubio is probably getting pretty excited to be Mittens #2 guy...
"My three favorite countries in North America are, uh, the United States, Canada, and, uh.....just a sec....."
"YEAH! that's it. Texas."
Again this is the best of the best republicans can offer to lead our country? How can any republican look at themselves in a mirror and honestly say to themselves our party is proud of who we are putting out there. Come on please!!
"President Perry, you do realize that you just authorize a nuclear strike on friendly country!?"
“I’m sure glad I had my boots on because I sure stepped in it out there.”
All he needs to remember is obama bad and fear wins.
Pathetic! Just Pathetic! Not just Perry, but the entire "debate"....Sure, Perry was a mess, but none of the candidates had any sound, solid answers or creditable solutions. And back to Perry, pathetic and horrible!!!
Almost feel sorry for the guy at this point. I really hope he recovers his mojo for his own personal well being. His prez campaign can now RIP.
Department of Energy? Dick Cheney will be angry. He worked hard to put all his oil people puppets into that agency.
Seriously, if we can only entice Mexico to take back Texas and Florida, this country would be so much better.
He forgot that Sarah told him to write the answers on his hand.
Early onset of Alzheimer's
It was Romney that responded "EPA" not Paul
I guess he just had a sarrah palin moment. lol
watching all the republican candidates is very painfull. I can not imagin any of them in the office of president. Just when we started to look like grown ups to the rest of the world.
That's quite alright, I'm sure your supporters will remember to vote for you. Oops.
Typical Texan . . . big hat, no cattle.
,,they wanna compete obama..funny
yes and remind me again what percentage of Republicans would vote for this guy for President of the greatest country on earch??? probably would have been the same number of morons that voted for mccain/palin in 2008.
when are you republicans going to wise up and find a smart capable candidate. the smartest guy in the room will always be any room that President Obama is in.
Boy I'd hate to find out he remembered the wrong one after taking office and closed one he actually wanted to keep.... oops.
Hahahahahahahahha I'm loving it. Obama 2012!!!
also guys, that wasn't Ron Paul who called out "EPA". clearly Romney, making fun of Perry. Paul just laughed at the joke, as did Bachman.
Again, best campaign strategy for beating Rick Perry is to let him talk.
I expect the "Leader of the free world" to have gotten better grades than I did. I also expect him to be able to string a sentence together without help. Save the money and bail out now. Mr. Cain is entertainment enough without your two cents worth. Oh, by the way. You may want to reconsider cutting the Department of Education. There are too many turning out like you as it is.