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. heywood B'klyn

    Perfect for puppet politics say as was said to you with know need to know why.

    November 10, 2011 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  2. Rich

    Ya sure stepped in it Rick.............again

    November 10, 2011 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  3. Recoveringrepublican

    Please, pretty please nominate this klown, King Of The Looneytunes.....

    November 10, 2011 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  4. John

    Rick Perry Is a oops! I can't believe the Republican even talk this Idiot Into Running at all. All he doing Is making you Republican look dumber than you really are. Rick Perry Is really bad and i can't believe that Texas elected him GOV.

    November 10, 2011 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  5. BE in TN

    texas deserves this jerk; romney and the clowns are up for comedy of the year award, lmao

    November 10, 2011 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  6. UsaGod help us

    Oops he did it again.. Goodbye mr.

    November 10, 2011 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  7. Phil in KC

    Could he not remember because he isn't serious about it or because he'd just as soon cut all of them? Or – is it because he got flustered under the pressure. Either way, is this a trait you want in President? " We've been attacked? What should we do? Oops."

    November 10, 2011 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  8. zonkers

    This guy isn't qualified to be a ringleader of a parade, let alone president. I'd ask how the hell he got to be Gov of Texas, but GWB explains everything I need to know on that subject. Eliminate Dept of Education? Seems like you may want to hang onto that one Ricky boy.
    Hopefully this will obliterate his gop run and we will hear no more from him.

    November 10, 2011 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  9. jim

    They want to eliminate the Departments of Commerce, Education & Energy??? What does that do for the future of America?? What's left? And what will these departments be replaced by? - a new Department for Corporations?

    They are boldly looking America in the eye and saying ... "We will eliminate the departments of your future, so we can enrich the rich"

    HELLO ??????!!!!!??????!!!

    Do we really want leaders who will destroy our future for the sake of the wealthy?????

    November 10, 2011 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  10. Russ in Md

    Everyone has an occasional brain fart.

    November 10, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  11. Richard in Houston

    Oh, so sorry. The third agency was the Department of Energy. You are not a winner. Thank you for playing and we have a lovely parting gift for you. Bye bye.

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

    Another one bites the Dust! Hey Hey

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

    I forget things, too! This is especially true when I'm under pressure. Who cares.

    I'm voting for Ron Paul, anyways.

    November 10, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  14. SWP

    Finally everyone gets to see on national television what an IDIOT Rick Perry is. I have to live in the state run by this guy !!! I hope and pray that Texans have enough common sense to get rid of him once and for all at the next gubernatorial election cycle !!!!!!! His witty little wholesome sayings are NOT going to save him this time from his stupidity !!!!

    November 10, 2011 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  15. coy4one

    I am SO HAPPY TO SEE PERRY MESS UP AGAIN!!! I'm from Houston and I have been telling everyone on here for some time that Perry is a joke! He keeps getting elected in Texas because he is in the pockets of big business, and has the support from the rural and Dallas, Austin "Bible-lovers." But he does not represent the poor, the indifferent, the middle-class, or the non-believers. (By non-believers, I mean anyone who does not believe in HIS religious beliefs) His so-called "success" in Texas is coincidental in that anyone, including me, could have been Governor during the same time period as Perry, and would have seen the same jobs success in Texas. Why? Oil, medical....Texas is full of both and it’s been growing and will continue to grow as long as gas prices go up and medical costs rise. Perry did not control these. Although Texas has done well so far in this bad economy, for us Texans it’s been the worst times since Perry was in office. In fact, George W. Bush was an excellent Governor and I'd take him back in a second! Why? Because Bush was at least for most of Texans and not a select few or group like Perry. So, Perry....JUST KEEP ON MESSING UP! I LOVE IT!!!

    November 10, 2011 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  16. Tired of the nonsense

    Commerce, Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Is there ANYONE out there who is still in doubt that the GOP wants to destroy America?

    November 10, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  17. Dan

    Maybe he should have prayed for the word like he fooled Texans into praying for rain.

    November 10, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  18. Rosa

    Too bad Texas is stuck with this "empty" suit. Hopefully he will get primaried or even better not run next time around. What a joke. And he said "God" told him to run. I guess "God" wanted him to make a total fool of himself.

    November 10, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  19. Jess C

    Put a fork in 'em, he's cooked.

    November 10, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  20. WhereIsPalin

    Ah, yes. The classic deer in the headlights.

    November 10, 2011 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  21. Paul

    Dumb, dumber and dumbest

    It is quite obvious that with each debate Perry sets out to set a record of being the dumbest presidential candidate ever. The irony is that, he doesn't have to put out any effort to do so.

    November 10, 2011 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  22. Thinker

    This group of candidates is scarey. Gringrich the liar and cheat, Perry's actions speak for themselves, Mitt can't make up his mind, bchman is clueless, Cain is discustingetc. Obama in 2012

    November 10, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  23. Annie, Atlanta

    Like I've said before, this guy is an amateur. You have to wonder if the people who convinced him this was his time to run for President were his friends or his foes.

    November 10, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  24. Lost in Texas FOREVER AND EVER

    I for one am not ready to write Perry off and for this reason.....the far right seems to gravitate to candidates like Rick Perry, the ones that aren't so bright, have that "yeah he's just like us" persona. Just look at the support for the likes of Sarah Palin and the early support for Michelle Bachmann. The great support for Herman Cain is another example. But the seemingly smarter candidates like say Huntsman get little support. Perry will not be gone anytime soon IMO.

    November 10, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  25. AlaskaPalin

    Perry had a lapse. Voting obama will be a relapse.

    November 10, 2011 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
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