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. one voice

    Talking about I.Q., is Rick Perry related to Sarah Palin? If so He will be writing on His hand next. WATCH HIM.

    November 10, 2011 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  2. love this country

    He's been doing that in texas for years and they still kept voting him back in.God help us!

    November 10, 2011 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  3. sick of republican phonies

    He shoulda writ on his HANDBONE, like the Alaskan queen of stoopid! ..."Milk, aigs, new cowpoke hat, Deeparment a' engery..."

    November 10, 2011 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  4. Marry

    Perry shows himself as such an outburst of incompetence, hogwash and insult to capable members of the Administration working hard for 99% of the people. The whole lot of GOP/TP contenders is a dangerous insult to the voter.

    November 10, 2011 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  5. Jebbb

    Hey Rick Perry, maybe you shouldn't be so quick to abolish the Dept of Education....

    November 10, 2011 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  6. SearchingForAnAtheistExtremist

    so, the choices are the guy everyone hates (Romney), the guy who has difficulty thinking (Perry), the guy accused of sexually harassing women who denies it because he "respects women" which clearly means referring to women who hold high offices "princess"...welcome to the USA. This is embarrassing.

    November 10, 2011 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  7. TT

    Wow!! How embarrassing! Goes to show how even some presidential candidates are puppets. Can't even remember what he was told to say.

    November 10, 2011 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    IF this is something critical to his view of what is wrong with the federal government, then he is in serious trouble. Perry never said that he was a great debater. The problem he has is that he makes some serious flubs which hurts him in the short and long run. Per chance Perry gets the nomination, he won't make it too far because he is too rough with what he wants to do.

    November 10, 2011 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  9. Jeff

    this is the point in the campaign where you gracefully bow out

    November 10, 2011 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  10. Don

    Perry should hang it up before he makes a complete fool of himself. Everyone gets one mulligan, but now he's screwing up on many consecutive occasions. I feel bad for him – he should save what is left of his career.

    November 10, 2011 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  11. Occupado

    A Jimmy Carter moment, indeed. But then again, the Obama Administration has been one big Jimmy Carter moment.

    I don't care who the Repubs nominate. I am voting against the moron we accidentally elected in 2008.

    November 10, 2011 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  12. Tim

    OMG!!! What an idiot! There is not way anyone can say that man is fit for the highest job in the land!

    November 10, 2011 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  13. alvin johnsooh

    I would not vote for Perry. i am embarrased that he is our governor. truly he is not ready for prime time.

    November 10, 2011 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  14. Don

    Unfortunately you need to be a little quicker on your feet. Goodbye Rick you're being voted off.

    November 10, 2011 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  15. Mike

    I bet Perry can't name all 57 states either.

    November 10, 2011 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  16. becorrect33

    In all seriousness, the only legitimate candidates are Paul, Huntsman, and Romney. The latter will be the nominee of this dying party and will most certainly loss the election. The GOP has very few credible answers to the nations problems, and without any REAL plan for job creation. Not to mention they are on the WRONG side of conservatism; as well as the issues at hand.

    November 10, 2011 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  17. mauimike

    Talk about a dim light in the hallway of life. The GOP seem to be going out of their way to find the lunatic fringe in the party.

    November 10, 2011 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  18. The Greedy Old Pigs have lost their minds!

    That's OK; Mr. KochCain certainly can use some of Perry's low-information supporters.

    November 10, 2011 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  19. Mike

    Except for maybe Romney and Huntsman, the GOP has only offered up candidates that are the equivalent of the joke contestants on American Idol - the ones that provide comic relief by amusing us with their complete lack of talent. Unfortunately, we need relief from the sad comedy of GOP politics.

    November 10, 2011 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  20. Steve From NH

    In the immortal words of My Cousing Vinny, "I'm done with THIS guy...."

    November 10, 2011 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  21. Fla.Pete

    He'll forget where the next debate is ,OOPS!!!!

    November 10, 2011 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  22. jason gibbons

    What an idiot i swear if he gets elected pres im movin out of tx

    November 10, 2011 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  23. informed voter

    One has to have a brain in order to have a brain freeze. Mr. Perry has shown time and again to be neuro-challenged. If he can't think on his feet in front of a friendly audience of like minded fools (such as the Republican debates) how would he ever be able to handle serious talks with our opponents around the world. He displays what a poor choice for leader he would be. President Obama is the only choice for 2012!

    November 10, 2011 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  24. Spencer

    If Perry was running for all the right reasons he wouldn't have forgotten his "own" ideas. in essence he showed his hand, and shouldn't be taken as a serious option for president.

    November 10, 2011 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  25. RINO Bil

    So let me get this straight, Rick Perry is going to create jobs by closing down at least three government agencies and firing tens of thousands of people? Sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul ... "I created 49,000 new jobs, but laid off 89,000 people!." I am finding it more difficult to believe that he actually is governor of a state in this country, of course after George Bush, Perry must have looked like a genius to Texas voters.

    November 10, 2011 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13