Rick Perry Tries to Recover With a Smile


Rick Perry has been trying to deal with his epic onstage meltdown during the Oakland University debate with self-deprecating humor.  “I really stepped in it, man,” he told reporters after the debate, a refreshingly humble response devoid of spin.

The next morning, Perry’s campaign sent out an email jovially asking supporters what department they would like to eliminate, filling in the blank created when Perry couldn’t name the third department on his cut list during the debate.  They’re even trying to raise funds off the gaffe:

We’ve all had human moments. President Obama is still trying to find all 57 states. Ronald Reagan got lost somewhere on the Pacific Highway in an answer to a debate question. Gerald Ford ate a tamale without removing the husk. And tonight Rick Perry forgot the third agency he wants to eliminate. Just goes to show there are too damn many federal agencies.

The governor said it best afterwards: “I’m glad I had my boots on, because I sure stepped in it tonight.”

While the media froths over this all too human moment, we thought we would take this opportunity to ask your help in doing something much more constructive: write us to let us know what federal agency you would most like to forget.

Is it the EPA and its job-killing zealots? The NLRB and its czar-like dictates? The edu-crats at the Department of Education who aim to control your local curriculum?

Send your answer to, and if you are on twitter join us in using a new twitter hashtag: #forgetmenot. And, if you could, throw in a $5 contribution for every agency you would like to forget. We hope you have a long list. And we promise we will write down every last idea. So we don’t forget.

Perry’s campaign staff is evidently somewhat less humble than the candidate, although they deserve some funny-bone credit for making their hashtag “forgetmenot”.

Perry appeared on the David Letterman show to lambaste himself during the “Top 10” list, and turned in a very funny performance:

There’s no other way Perry could play this, but it’s really not a laughing matter.  The department he couldn’t recall his desire to eliminate was the Energy Department, and his economic plan is very heavily based on removing government interference from the development of energy resources.  Candidates don’t necessarily have to master every tiny detail of their platforms for instant recall during debates, but voters want to see them demonstrate a firm grasp of the Big Picture.  That’s also why Herman Cain makes trouble for himself when he tries to bury serious questions about his 999 Plan under “apples and oranges.”  It’s not at all reassuring that Perry would freeze up when talking about one of the most pivotal planks in his entire platform – a concept he claims is integral to restarting the economy and creating jobs.

Of course, voters are also nervous that Perry would have another “flash crash” during the general election, if he were to become the GOP presidential candidate.  Perry’s campaign was already in rough shape, and the flameout of his third department-cutting jet engine stalled a pivotal effort to gain altitude.  The L.A. Times reports that “his fundraisers have begun to abandon the Texas governor” while “Republican strategists are offering eulogies”:

“I think the Perry campaign is over. I regret saying that and I do not say it easily,” said one prominent Perry bundler, who spoke anonymously to preserve relations with the candidates and other Republicans. “I like him, I admire him … but the reality is he is consistently the weakest performer in these debates and does not, unfortunately, pass the test of presidential acceptability. Close your eyes and think of Rick Perry and Barack Obama on a debate platform, and I don’t think you have to say much more.”

[…] “It still makes my skin crawl, and I’ve watched it 37 times since last night. It was just an unbelievable mental collapse,” said Rich Galen, a veteran GOP strategist watching the primaries from the sidelines. “One of the things about being presidential is being able to react properly in a crisis…. For Perry last night that debate was a crisis mode. It was a big moment and he couldn’t do it. I don’t see how he comes back.”

New polling data reported this morning shows Newt Gingrich surging into a virtual three-way tie with Mitt Romney and Herman Cain.  Perry has his work cut out for him if he wants to get back into the top tier, as voters alarmed by his debate freeze still have alternatives to choose from, and the sand is rapidly running out of the primary hourglass.