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article imageRepublican presidential nominee Rick Perry stumbles at GOP debate

By Andrew Reeves     Nov 10, 2011 in Politics
Detroit - Republican presidential nominee Rick Perry drew an embarrassing blank last night in the GOP debate when stating what government agencies would be cut in the Perry administration.
Republican presidential nominee Rick Perry continued his downward slide in the polls last night. In a debate hosted by CNBC in Detroit, Michigan, Perry blanked when stating the three government agencies would be cut outright should he secure the Republican nomination, and win the White House from Obama.
"It's three government agencies when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education and the um, what's the third one there. Let's see," Perry said. He turned hopefully to Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for help, but heard only a reply from Paul that he would eliminate five agencies if he were elected.
Other candidates offered suggestions, and still Perry stumbled.
"So Commerce, Education, and, uh, the uh, um, um," Perry stuttered.
Huffington Post provides a good transcript of the incident:
"EPA?" offered Paul.
"EPA, there ya go," Perry said as the room exploded in laughter.
CNBC moderator John Harwood honed in and pressed Perry: "Seriously? Is EPA the one you were talking about?"
"No sir. No sir. We were talking about the, um, agencies of government," Perry said. "The EPA needs to be rebuilt."
"But you can't name the third one?" Harwood persisted.
"The third agency of government," Perry said. "I would do away with the education, the um, Commerce, and let's see. I can't think of the third one. I can't. Sorry. Oops."
A ripple of murmurs passed through the crowd as Perry stuttered for the second and third time before finally admitting that he could not remember the third agency he would cut if elected. Audible noises can be heard from the other candidates and moderators on stage.
Perry was once the forerunner in the race to lead his party against Barack Obama in the 2012 American election, and long projected to be the only candidate with enough conservative bonafides to represent all facets of the Republican Party, while having the charisma and speaking skills needed to beat Obama.
But gaffes such as the one Perry committed last night are nothing new for his campaign to date, which has dropped him to the middle of the presidential pack. RealClearPolitics presented the findings of six different polls, all of which place Perry in fourth place, ahead of Ron Paul and Michelle Bachmann, but significantly behind pizza mogul Herman Cain and Mitt Romney, in addition to Newt Gingrich.
And while his supporters are claiming it was a "stumble of style, not of substance," others are not so sure.
"Yeah I stepped in it man. Yeah it was embarrassing. Of course it was," Perry himself admitted, as reported in the Huffington Post. "But here's what's more important. People understand that our principles, our conservative principles, are what matter."
“We just keep going out there and talking about the issues that we think are important to the people of this country,” Perry said in the National Post. “The perfect candidate has never been created yet. … And Americans are pretty forgiving people.”
But Perry is asking for significantly more forgiveness as the campaign wears on, and time is running out. Perry has lot a lot of ground in the past few weeks to Herman Cain, and he was relying on a strong showing last night in order to make up some of that distance. The stumble, needless to say, did not help.
Perry is adamant that his campaign is not over, but things don't look good for the current governor of Texas. He has announced that he will be participating in the next Republican debate in South Carolina on Saturday night, where he will no doubt need to regain even more lost ground with a solid and, for his sake, flawless performance.
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