In order to revive his sagging campaign, Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, turned to self-deprecating humor on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show.
After the debate debacle in which he couldn’t remember the third federal department he would cut, which was the Department of Energy, Perry has tried to be more likable to voters by poking fun at himself.
Perry went on David Letterman’s show the next day and counted down the top ten reasons he forgot about the third department. Perry also made light of the gaffe in the next debate. When moderator Scott Pelley mentioned the Department of Energy, Perry said “you remembered it,” which got laughs from the audience and other candidates on stage.
Perry continued to use his gaffe for comedic effect, saying at one point, “Every now and then I call my dogs by the wrong name.”
Perry also made fun of his other notable gaffe, which occurred at a speech in New Hampshire. Perry said at the event for students, “Those of you that will be 21 by November the 12th, I ask for your support and your vote.”
This comment was a double whammy because the voting age is 18 years old nationwide and the vote is on November 6. Perry responded to the gaffe on Leno’s show by saying that he simply confused the voting age with the drinking age. He said that he had to have some kind of excuse, and that he’s “sticking to it”.
During the show, the Perry campaign released an ad that also made light of his forgetfulness.
You can see Perry’s Leno ad here:
For Perry, whose campaign went from being initially the strongest challenge to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to near the bottom of the Republican field, getting voters to think more highly of his intelligence and personality are some of the ways that he can become relevant again. With just a month to go before the primary starts, Perry may be running out of time.
According to Gallup, Perry has a 0 positive intensity score, even lower than some candidates that have never gained traction, like former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Perry only remains above former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who has made rankling conservative voters into a personal art form.
By trying to make himself more likeable and connecting to voters through humor, Perry has to hope that Republican primary voters will give him one last chance. However, the continual references to his gaffes may only cement the image of Perry as an unintelligent or unserious man in the eyes of voters, and the tactic may also wear thin if it is overused.