Perry freezes – normal guy or doomed presidential candidate?
Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry drew a blank at the Michigan debate while trying to make a point about cutting government waste.
Afterwards, his campaign spokesman said it was an error of style not substance. Tony Fratto, former President George W. Bush’s spokesman, tweeted: “Perry can end his campaign right now.”
The affable Texas governor said he would eliminate three government agencies if elected president — but he could only name two.
“It is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education and the, what is the third one there, let’s see,” Perry said during the debate.
Prompted by a moderator, Perry tried again. “The third agency of government I would do away with — the Education, the Commerce and let’s see. … I can’t, the third one, I can’t, sorry. Oops,” Perry said.
After the debate Perry told reporters: “It was embarrassing, of course it was, but people understand our conservative principles are what matter.”
“Well we had a stumble of style but not substance as the governor just said,” Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan told CNBC. “It was good he was wearing his boots tonight because he stepped in it.”
Sullivan searched for an explanation for Perry’s mental freeze. “There were long lulls between questions that may have had something to do with it,” Sullivan said. “But look, anyone who has been on television, who has been in the public arena knows that there going to be times that you just can’t reach a word on your tongue.”
Perry has been troubled by lackluster debate performances and has confessed he is not the “slickest” debater. His campaign has considered sitting out some of the remaining debates — because the number of debates takes away from actual campaigning.
Later in the debate tonight, the answer came to Perry — it was the the Department of Energy. And Sullivan glossed over his boss’s blunder.
“He’s a real human being. He’s not a robot. He’s not been programmed,” Sullivan said. “He’s one of the rare breeds in politics who still speaks from the heart. He still can relate to normal people.”
Photo Credit:REUTERS/Mark Blinch (Perry at Republican debate in Rochester, Mich.)