November 9th, 2011
10:22 PM ET
10 years ago

Will 'Oops' be Perry's campaign epitaph?

(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.

Also see:

Perry's forget me-not-fundraising

Poll: Tight races between Obama and Romney in three swing states

Five things we learned from Wednesday's GOP debate



Filed under: 2012 • Debate • Rick Perry
soundoff (320 Responses)
  1. Bob

    If Perry did this in a debate against Obama it would be over with. The Liberals want Perry to be the nominee..

    November 10, 2011 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  2. roscoe

    If you thought things were better with Bush in the White House, you're going to love it if Perry gets in there.

    November 10, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  3. roscoe

    Will Obama give Perry's son his job back? I wonder how Perry's wife will blame Obama for Rick's poor debate performance?

    November 10, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  4. Richard in Houston

    Poster child of an empty suit. Man he makes Dubya look intellegent

    November 10, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  5. Larry L

    I can't wait to see the Daily Show!

    November 10, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  6. Ohio Man

    He is the male version on Palin.. lol.. .. There should be a Perry/ Palin ticket .. now that would really b sad but funny

    November 10, 2011 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  7. Corporations R. People II

    Now don't be sad, cuz two out of three ain't bad.
    Bye Rick, take Herb with you.

    November 10, 2011 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  8. Colgate

    The Texas 'Tard Twins: Dubya and Flubya...

    November 10, 2011 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  9. Sniffit

    "What's this red button do? OOPS!"

    November 10, 2011 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  10. AlaskaPalin

    perry jokes, liberals say drunk. He forgets something, liberals say dunce. When liberals hate someone it shows that person is a true conservative. Perry will be a 'do something' president, a fitting replacement for the 'do nothing' president (oblamer) we have in the 'white' house.

    November 10, 2011 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  11. Kwesoe

    It's called the early onset of dementia. You start by forgetting your own name, the names of your spouse , your children and your pet. But it could also be that man, Barak Obama. I'm told he practices voodoo and he has the ability to cast a spell on his opponents. oops!

    November 10, 2011 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  12. tannim

    Yes, Slick Rick is done worse than a burned Thanksgivign Turkey.

    What's the hilarious part about it is that Dr. Paul named five just minutes before (and has doen so multiple times before that!) and he couldn't even remember what Dr. Paul had said and simply repeat it!

    This wasn't "stepping in it". This was an EPIC BRAIN FART!

    November 10, 2011 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  13. Sniffit

    All I can think of watching these GOP/Teatroll dummies during these things is the Shriners driving around in figure 8s and circles and what not on those tiny little cars and bikes when you see them at a parade...with the Yackity Sax song of Benny Hill fame playing in the background.

    November 10, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    I say the odds are still looking pretty decent and good that Perry can still get the VP nomination if an anti-Romney wins the GOTP nomination. What, you say. Have I lost my mind and all sense of reason? Nope, nah, not at all. I'm just as good and sharp as ever. I'm just predicting the actions of those who have lost their minds and all sense of reason.

    November 10, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  15. Sniffit

    "Everyone has an occasional brain fart."

    Cowboy Fonzie and the rest of them are in perpetual brain fart mode, as evidenced from their bloated egos and rhetorical flatulence. The only Bean-O that can solve the problem is education, but it's too late for the current crop.

    November 10, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Russ in Md wrote:
    Everyone has an occasional brain fart.
    Yeah, we do. But only complete [deleted] idiots are flatulent about it.

    November 10, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  17. ST

    Perry go for OMEGA 3 or eat a lot of fish to improve your memory!

    November 10, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  18. No More Taxes

    We need more debates!

    November 10, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. NVa Native

    None of the Repubs on that stage are worthy of the office of President of US – emabarassing for all Americans.

    November 10, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  20. EddyL

    Perry can cheer up. Isn't there an execution scheduled in Texas today?

    November 10, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
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