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. otermbachmann

    May I introduce to you neocon candidate Rick p-oops.

    November 10, 2011 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  2. savnt

    so Repubteas, this is the man that you want to lead our country? The Republicans ought to be ashamed of these clowns. This bozo can't even remember who he is against! Go Obama!

    November 10, 2011 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  3. TxJim

    "Oops.. I should have never run for President...Why did I let Anita, I mean God, talk me into it..."

    -Rick Perry

    November 10, 2011 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  4. saftgek

    That Gov. Perry is still in the race is verification he is unfit to run for president. No person with control of their mental faculties could look objectively at their conduct and abilities and not say "I MUST get out now!"

    The Governor's handlers, if they do not advide him to terminate his candidacy, are NOT doing him – or the country – justice. Governor Perry MUST go! It would also be incredibly valuable to the country for him to take all other candidates with him. The GOP field has no one who can even conceive of prevailing in 2012.

    November 10, 2011 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  5. steven

    He wants to get rid of the agencies that protect the environment, promote education and monitor trade. I am flabbergasted that he would even think of closing those agencies. GOP is a failure. Oh, and will someone PLEASE get him out of Texas

    November 10, 2011 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  6. Texans Hate Perry

    Rick "Oops" Perry is a disgrace to the nation and society. Texans demand a RECALL! Don't cry Anita, everything will he fine as one of the 99%.

    November 10, 2011 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  7. Rick

    The fact that this man is actually a governor of any state is truly amazing.

    November 10, 2011 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  8. Name

    Get over it. Who hasn't had a "moment." Hahaha laugh..joke..poke fun.. just remember to eat your words when you have YOUR moment of forgetfulness, when you can't think or whatever it is your wanting to remember at the moment.. hahahha .. laugh it up .. because your perfect. '-'

    November 10, 2011 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  9. A fellow American

    Rick is Texas Toast! After this debate, my vote is for Mitt!

    November 10, 2011 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  10. Dave, CA

    No one has pointed out the absurdity of axing 3 agencies is supposed to somehow "create" jobs in Perry land?

    November 10, 2011 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  11. Gene

    Wow he is very presidential the GOP is the laughing stock of the world. They are dragging this country down.

    November 10, 2011 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  12. Kenny K

    That is sad to make decision to terminate an agency without be able to remember name in a flash. It means he never evaluate their impacts and importance on the country. If they are something he put thought into over time, they will alway linger in his mind.

    November 10, 2011 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  13. Arthur

    wow that's pathetic, i mean it's bad enough that he want all three closed and three that are very important. But what makes it so bad is he couldn't remember all three in a public debate. Just pathetic. Really if anyone but Romney gets the nom the GOP will get squashed in the general elections.

    November 10, 2011 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  14. lonestar

    goodness goodhair! that's the best you got?

    November 10, 2011 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  15. Enuff already

    They sure know how to make dumb presidential candidates in TX. Face it, Romney and Cain are #1
    & #2 at this point. I think the nation would be relieved ti see Perry dropout.

    November 10, 2011 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  16. TheDumbRepublican

    I feel sorry for Texas. You went from "Dumbya" to Dumber =D Why do Texans keep electing these guys?

    November 10, 2011 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  17. LeeAT

    I told you all when Perry got in the race, that you would see that he does not have what it takes to be president. My amazement is that he has been governor of Texas for so long, with so little. Republicans should get solidly behind Romney, because he is the only GOP candidate out of this bunch that stands a chance against Obama. Gingrich is actually the most qualified of the bunch, but for some reason he is just not resonating.

    November 10, 2011 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  18. Peter

    He and Palin would make a great team.

    November 10, 2011 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  19. Time to Think

    In fairness to Perry, he is no more of a clown than the rest of the GOP hopefuls.

    November 10, 2011 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  20. aleppo1091

    Aaa, we don't need no stinkin' education. Give Energy to BP & Exxon, & Commerce to a Wall Street pack of dogs. Go Perry.

    November 10, 2011 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    As embarrassing as it was to watch Rick Perry (and yes it was), it is equally embarrassing that this particular group of Grand Old Party candidates actually believe they are each ready, capable, and fully prepared to become the next President of the United States of America and leader of the free world.

    Not one of them stand out as a leader ... Not one of them stand out as having solutions to complex problems ... Not one of them gives any indication whatsoever they even grasp the huge undertaking they are attempting to achieve beyond that of their own personal ambitions of self magnificence.

    Not one of them are worth voting for ... today, tomorrow, next week, or next year.

    November 10, 2011 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  22. Iced Tea

    So what, the guy's IQ is somewhere near his shoe size. What do you expect?

    November 10, 2011 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  23. Perry's Mom

    My son is very dumb. His grades were awful in school and he just cannot think critically. We're sorry the American public has to be subjected to his inability to understand even the most basic of things. We are, however, thankful to the voters in the dumb state of Texas for giving him the opportunity to brag about the thousands of low-paying, worthless jobs he has created. The entire republican field is terrible and we just thought he might fit in and make a few friends, you know. Again, sorry.

    November 10, 2011 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  24. Perry's Dad

    What she said.

    November 10, 2011 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  25. Jon Stewart

    I want to personally thank Perry's Mom and Dad for the gift that keeps on giving. Just, wow.

    November 10, 2011 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
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