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. justsayin

    Wow, just Wow. This clown is on a memorization kick, and he plain just forgot what he memorized in his practice session. Just when I thought there could be no one on the planet dumber than George Bush, along comes Tricky Ricky. What is going on with Texas, are you good folks kidding the rest of us, Bush and Perry, Really! You need to rethink your plan to destroy america Texas, and quit sending us your clown show, after Bush we don't want anymore texans, thank you, you can keep them, and I really wish you all the luck I can, you all will need it. If you really want to cecede from the United States, then so be it, and quit sending us your leftover trash. At this point the U.S. would be much better off without you.

    November 9, 2011 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  2. Chris

    I love how this is being framed by most media as a momentary lapse of knowledge rather than what it is: A guy who wants to be president who doesn't understand the most elementary basics of the federal government. And of course republicans will forgive him because I'd say 95% of the republican base didn't know it was the department of energy either.

    So goes the follies of the republican nomination process. Just like Sarah Palin, instead of admitting she was unqualified and uneducated in terms of government, this will be framed as a 'gotcha media moment' instead of just a beautiful moment of truth and sadness for the GOP.

    November 9, 2011 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  3. call me crazy

    Wow, how can anyone believe anything else that comes out of this man's mouth. He clearly doesn't have a clue what he's doing. Or worst case scenario he was blasted.

    November 9, 2011 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  4. Wanda

    You loosers need to stop attacking this good man. He believe in Jesus Christ and that is all that matters to me!!

    November 9, 2011 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  5. Russ139

    What's the big deal? A President doesn't have to remember which departments he wants to get rid of. That's what his staff is for. C'mon, Bush couldn't even remember why he went into Iraq. First, it was to get WMD, then it was to rid the world of Saddam Hussein, then it was to bring democracy to the Middle East, then it was to defeat Al Quiada. Must be a Texas thing.

    November 9, 2011 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  6. USMaverick

    If this is the flock GOP wants to herd for 2012, brace for a humiliating defeat.
    This bunch is worse than the LA Clippers

    November 9, 2011 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  7. BB

    Didn't I tell you to skip those stupid debates? for how long are you going to fool yourself friend?

    November 9, 2011 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  8. David

    Man the GOP is in trouble if all they have to offer is this bozo, a sleazy pervert Koch brother puppet and the Romneybot.

    November 9, 2011 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  9. Stephen

    God, this is BEAUTIFUL. He wants to destroy stuff indiscriminately. I cannot imagine a more scathing and more fitting indictment of where Republican rhetoric is leading.

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

    What a waste of 17 million dollars!

    November 9, 2011 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  11. thing55

    Perry should have done what Sarah Palin did when she had to remember all the way up to three things. He should have written it on his hand.

    November 9, 2011 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  12. EverythingsBigInTexas

    Pres. Perry with his finger on the button, "Sorry, oops."

    November 9, 2011 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  13. BaltDoug

    Scary...Perry makes Cain, Bachman,et al seem smart!

    November 9, 2011 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  14. steve

    Herman Cain can't remember any women he has ever met;
    Rick Perry can't remember his political platform;
    Mitt Romney can't remember which position he took on which issue in which week;
    Newt Gingrich can't remember how much he owes to which jewelry stores in what cities;
    Michelle Bachmann can't remember anything of American history prior to Ronald Reagan;
    and THIS is who will lead America into the future?

    November 9, 2011 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  15. JennyTX

    Closing three departments means laying off how many people? In a time of high unemployment???

    November 9, 2011 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  16. tigerakabj

    After watching this I am even more fired up to go pull the lever for President (in every sense of the word) Barack Obama next year, along with an even bigger Democratic majority than in 2008. These people made Bush look like Teddy Roosevelt. And worst of all, yep, this Perry amnesia.

    I mean really, cutting the Department of Commerce? So who exactly is going to be responsible for trade? Don't we want to export our products to other countries? It's unbelievable that something like that isn't laughed off the stage immediately.

    Have a good night everybody.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    November 9, 2011 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  17. Rambling Parry

    You see why we can not and must not cut the Dept of Education. We'll all end up like Succesionist Parry.

    November 9, 2011 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  18. mfx3

    Seems like, if you're going to fire people, you should at least remember the agency they work for.

    November 9, 2011 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  19. Dan Kostka

    That was painful to watch. Game over, Perry. By the way, it sure seemed that whoever suggested "EPA" was off to Perry's right. It was probably Santorum (Not Paul, who was to Perry's left).

    November 9, 2011 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  20. jon

    All of these Republicans are just nuts. If you elect any one of them, they will just rip us a new one again.

    November 9, 2011 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  21. stevenfbrackett

    You know, I wouldn't be surprised if in the next few days Palin jumped up and yelled - "Changed my mind! I back in!"

    November 9, 2011 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  22. JJinCVCA

    I'm a supporter of President Obama. I think the Republican candidates for president are jokes, unelectable, unpresidential, mediocre at best, and dangerous at worst.

    In terms of Gov. Rick Perry, I'd have to say that everyone has brain-farts in their lives... but if you pay careful attention, what this incident clearly demonstrates is Gov. Perry's overwhelming insincerity. Come on, Republicans, even I can believe that sincerity is way up there in your books. Rick Perry is a clown.

    November 9, 2011 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  23. Chris

    Sounds like he has real conviction about his policies. What a joke.

    November 9, 2011 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  24. Jeb

    He couldn't name 3 Federal agencies. What a freakin' moron.

    November 9, 2011 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  25. Ben

    So the best Texas has given us the last 20 years has been Bush and Perry....WoW.

    November 9, 2011 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
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