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. RSG

    "Oops" he did it again. He's not the president!

    November 10, 2011 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  2. Anthony

    This is not an epitaph because people know beforehand that Perry is stupid. What hurts him is his stance on in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants. What saves him is that Romney is a Mormon and the godfather of Obama's health care plan, not to mention that he is an unprincipled flip-flopper; that Cain will lose the female vote (Note to Republicans: there are more female voters than male voters); that Gingrich will lose the female vote (because he dumped his first wife while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery, cheated on wives #1 and #2 and left them when they were sick, and was cheating on wife #2 while trying to bring down Bill Clinton for his marital infidelity), and has ground to make up with conservatives because he criticized the Ryan plan as "right-wing social engineering"; that there is a reason this is the third try for the White House for Ron Paul; that Huntsman is really running in the wrong party and in the wrong year (he should have waited until 2016); and that Santorum and Bachmann are too much of a joke to be taken seriously. This is why Obama is leading Romney, the Republican frontrunner now that Cain's campaign is imploding, by 6 points in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll. Yes, Wall Street Journal Poll.

    November 10, 2011 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
  3. Michael Gonzales

    I dont mind Mr. Perry but he's not ready for prime time and should drop out and back Mr. Cain. Perry would make a good VP, at least as good as Biden has been.

    November 10, 2011 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  4. Augustus

    Its not about being prepared, its about containing it. Oops

    November 10, 2011 04:24 am at 4:24 am |
  5. Kevin Lawson

    Mr. Perry, who are the three most influential figures in your life?
    My faith is at the root of my desire to serve our great nation so I would have to say the Father, the Son and um…I’m blanking, but you know… that other guy.

    Mr. Perry, what are the three branches of the federal government?
    Legislature, judiciary, and ummm.....
    That's ok, Rick, you can forget about the other one.

    November 10, 2011 04:34 am at 4:34 am |
  6. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Rick Perry is one of the Republicans that I would most like to see out of contention for my party's nomination.
    His thinking is too heavily based on religion.

    November 10, 2011 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  7. one voice

    May I ask a simple question? What is His I.Q.?

    November 10, 2011 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  8. Bryan

    Should have just taken the heat and kept with your brilliant plan of not attending the debates.

    November 10, 2011 05:03 am at 5:03 am |
  9. C Robb

    Someone stick Perry with a fork, I think he's done.

    November 10, 2011 05:10 am at 5:10 am |
  10. sid

    wow he's done. Obama 2012

    November 10, 2011 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  11. Markpro

    And I thought Bush was a burnout.

    November 10, 2011 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  12. unowhoitsme

    Not a good sign when a potential presidential candidate can't remember where he wants to make his cuts. It's hard convincing your audience when you can't remember your own plan.

    November 10, 2011 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  13. anthony graham

    Oops oops stop play game get on track. Graha. Slam

    November 10, 2011 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
  14. malik harris

    Did this man graduate from any school ? How was he ever elected to public office ?

    November 10, 2011 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  15. OBXJewel

    Thank you, Rick Perry for showing your TRUE colors and LACK of intelligence! My aunt lives in Texas and she is a Republican and said she didn't think Texas could be hurt anymore after George W. Bush, but she laughed and said, "Oh, I was so wrong! We now have Rick Perry and he has sunk us to a new low!" I think she must know what she is talking about judging from Perry's visit to New Hampshire and now this disaster! "OOOPS!" is right, you dumber-than-W-idiot!!! Pack your bags and tuck your tail between your legs and head back to Texas! Good riddance, but thank you for showing your true colors!

    November 10, 2011 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  16. malik harris

    Did this man graduate from any school ? How was he elected to be governor ? Or any public office ?

    November 10, 2011 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  17. georgia

    He almost got it right?

    November 10, 2011 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  18. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Not knowing what you're talking about is one of the best ways to lose an election.
    Remember Sen. Scott Brown's dramatic defeat of What's-Her-Name in Massachusetts.

    November 10, 2011 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  19. remoteDef

    I'm no Perry fan, but this is just ridiculous. It highlights everything wrong with democracy in its modern form. Apparently, if you lose your train of thought, you are unfit to hold public office.

    The presidential race has become a friggin' beauty pageant.

    November 10, 2011 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  20. TexasMan

    Damn, it made me, a Texan, feel embarrassed. We have smart people here. He needs to quit.

    November 10, 2011 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  21. TexasMan

    Just quit, Mr. Perry.

    November 10, 2011 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  22. Mike

    I could be mistaken, but I believe it was Ron Paul who suggested EPA to Perry, not Romney.

    An embarrassing moment to be sure.

    November 10, 2011 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  23. nate

    um...damn, forgot what I was going to say...It was something important I know it was.
    Sorry. Oops!

    November 10, 2011 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  24. T'sah from Virginia

    ►TRENDING: Will 'Oops' be Perry's campaign epitaph?
    PerryWinkle is DONE – along with Cain – SNL will get the LAST LAUGH!!

    Obama 2012

    November 10, 2011 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  25. Greg

    Whatever it is, he'll eliminate it.

    The male Sarah Palin has spoken.

    November 10, 2011 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
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