November 9th, 2011
10:22 PM ET
9 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. GuyinVA

    "Will 'oops' be Perry campaign's epitaph?" Yes. Yes it will.

    November 9, 2011 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  2. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Drugs cloud the mind

    November 9, 2011 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  3. m

    There you go he just proved he is a DUMB A^^

    November 9, 2011 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  4. Debbie

    Not the worst brain f@rt I've ever seen. Governor of AZ went totally blank and couldn't give an opening statement was the worst and yet she was re-elected. Of course what I wonder is Perry sitting across from Putin and can't remember his own basic policy's for negotiation.

    November 9, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  5. ILikeIkeV2

    Poor guy. He definitely cannot take the pressure anymore.

    November 9, 2011 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  6. Joe

    Thank you. Don't call us–we'll call you.


    November 9, 2011 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  7. Oneazn

    Poor Perry. When you breathe so much hot air, it's gonna burn your tongue one day!

    November 9, 2011 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  8. yu

    That's what happen when u lie. These idiots do not have a clue about how things work

    November 9, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  9. Sane Americans for Obama

    This is wayyyy to funny. Rick Perry is done.

    November 9, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  10. Obama 2012

    O god what an embarassment.

    November 9, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  11. JAM

    Rick Perry is Texas Toast

    November 9, 2011 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  12. Siimon

    I think its deplorable that in this economy with the issues that were discussed tonight that this is the story written. Several candidates would bring confidence back to the markets thats what needs to be focused on. There are several choices who could make great leaders such as Huntsman and Gingrich.

    November 9, 2011 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  13. texas nani

    This man is a total buffoon! The SNL skit on him nails it. "I'd be doing good if I didn't have to talk." Seriously people, I was born and raised in Texas and have one son who went to Harvard medical school and one to Harvard college. We are mexican-american liberals who would never vote for the likes of Rick Perry. I am embarassed by all the bad press Texas has received because of this idiot. Please don't think we're all ignorant fools.

    November 9, 2011 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  14. Ken


    Fool me once shame on....
    This is pure and classic W !!

    November 9, 2011 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  15. Dave

    I wonder if he can remember God, the Son and the Holy Ghost!

    November 9, 2011 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  16. LNB

    It amazes me that we have this caliber of people running for the POTUS. This man is pedestrian and below average on so many levels. An old boys' club of second rank, or perhaps third. It disgusts me to listen to any of these candidates. At this point in the clown show, I m sure Palin is sorry she dropped out. If she re-enters, it will lower even further the caliber of people put up for choice, but it will sure make for an historic line-up. Perry is done. Kochcain is finished. We have Mitt and Newt. For now....

    November 9, 2011 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  17. markus

    Good night, sweet prince.

    November 9, 2011 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  18. Sorensen

    I cannot wait to hear Steve Forbes reaction to Perry's final and stupid downfall.
    Probably just embarrassed silence.
    Of course, Perry was the quintessential manifestation of the empty, corrupt and marginally sick attitudes and
    behaviour patterns of a large majority of the GOP.
    They have not reached the bottom yet, but they are surely working hard on it.

    November 9, 2011 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  19. SS

    Ron Paul listened to Perry like any good doctor would with a drunk patient.

    November 9, 2011 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  20. izy

    wow...just goes to show you, nothing good to offer from republicans, support higher gaps against the rich and the poor, eliminating department of education, Perry, Cain, Romney, Palin, and all the rest, just clowns...this is just to much non-sense to take.

    November 9, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  21. NameJmnc

    Perry is a joke... And so is the GOP. Almost feel sorry for the clown and the rest of his circus. Thanklfully Perry will be shortly be returning permanently to TX and no one on that stage will ever sit in the oval office. Thanks for the laughs though

    November 9, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  22. ObamaCares

    Obama in 2012!!! Look @ how all the idiotic repugs fall over themselves.

    November 9, 2011 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  23. LNB

    Doing away with these three agencies is criminal. I am glad he failed tonight. What it would mean is parents' own money to pay for education ( the rich go to school); Commerce ( removing all gates to protect what little remains of labor and fairness in trade, regulations on transportation, etc) and finally he wants the DOE to go, and that would mean full throttle ahead with no regulations on drilling, mining, nuclear etc. God is nature. None of these candidates is Christian, truly. Excuse me, I must go vomit.

    November 9, 2011 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  24. James B

    Dumb as rocks...

    November 9, 2011 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  25. Beto69

    Perry is not and never will be presidential.

    November 9, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
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