Former Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Perry was hoping to revive his declining campaign in Wednesday's debate in Michigan. Instead, he suffered an "epic" memory meltdown that only fueled doubts about whether he is really capable of handling the presidency. After vowing to eliminate three cabinet departments, Perry could name only two, fumbling awkwardly for several seconds as his rivals offered suggestions. Debate co-moderator John Harwood pushed Perry to name the third federal department. "The third agency of government I would do away with," Perry said. "Education, the, uh, Commerce, and let's see. I can't. The third one. I can't. Sorry. Oops." (Watch the video below.) Later in the debate, Perry remembered No. 3 — the Energy Department — but the damage had been done. Even some Perry donors instantly told reporters the Texas governor could not recover from such a historic mistake. Perry says the gaffe simply humanized him, and he has no intention to quit. But is it curtains for Perry?
Yes. Perry is finished: No wonder Rick Perry wants to skip future debates, says Nolan Finley at The Detroit News. "He's the worst debater since Dan Quayle." This meltdown was "stunning" to watch and impossible to forget. Perry can't recover from this — it's time for him to just give up.
"Perry is toast"
It's unfair to judge Perry too harshly for this: "I feel sorry for Perry," says William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. He was doing fine Wednesday night until he had his "oops" moment, and now that's the only thing anyone will remember about the entire debate. "One freeze on stage should not end a campaign, but the reaction will be brutal because it fits into a narrative of prior debate failures."
"Most brutal debate video and tweets ever"
Perry was already doomed; this just seals it: The thought of watching the "oft-tongue-tied Perry" trying to debate President Obama already gave "Republican big-wigs the heebie jeebies," says Kyle Wingfield at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Now people are asking themselves whether Perry's forgetfulness betrays "a lack of seriousness about his very own plan." The only consolation for the poor guy is that after weeks of other highly-publicized gaffes, he was probably "toast" long before he even stepped on the stage Wednesday night.
"Rick Perry's pitiful, sympathy-inducing, human moment (which probably finished off his campaign)"
Watch Perry's awkward moment for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 10 things you need to know today: November 28, 2014
- Bush vs. Clinton in 2016 is the perfect way to make millennials hate politics even more
- The latent sexism of the male marriage proposal
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- This judge is the reason we're still fighting over net neutrality
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Ferguson riots were terrible — but this racist reaction was worse
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
Subscribe to the Week