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Top 5 Rick Perry Gaffes

Tracy Bloom |
November 30, 2011 | 1:43 p.m. PST

Exeuctive Editor

Rick Perry might want to think about making "Oops! I Did It Again!" his campaign's theme song following a series of embarrassing gaffes in the GOP presidential debates and on the campaign trail. One of the gaffes even (infamously) included his actual use of the word "oops!"

"Look I'm a human being," Perry told Fox News on Wednesday. "I'm going to make some mistakes from time to time in my remarks."

Indeed he already has. Here now, let's reflect on the top five gaffes he's made in the three months since he entered the Republican presidential race.

1. Perry's "Oops" Debate Moment

Perry's presidential campaign effectively came to a grinding halt during the CNBC GOP debate in November, when Perry he could only remember two of the three government agencies he would cut if elected president. Oops indeed!

Awkward doesn't even begin to describe how uncomfortable it was to watch Perry struggle for nearly a minute to come up with a response.

(For the record: Perry was searching for the Department of Energy, something you would think would come easily to the mind of the longest serving governor of Texas.)

Coming into the presidential contest in August, the rap against Perry was that he was not a good debater. During this particular performance, Perry proved that was probably the understatement of the year. 

2. Perry Flubs The Voting Age (And The 2012 Election Date)

Perry, it seems, cannot get a break. His latest gaffe happened on Fox News Wednesday morning while he was--you can't make this stuff up--defending a double gaffe he made on Tuesday!

On the Fox News appearance, Perry incorrectly identified New Hampshire's early-voting contest as a "caucus" instead of a "primary." The day before, Perry told a crowd of supporters in a New Hampshire appearance: "Those of you that will be 21 by November the 12th, I ask for your support and your vote. Those of you who won't be, just work hard." 

Yes, there are a few problems with that statement. First, the voting age in America is 18 (again...something you would think the longest serving governor in Texas history would know!). Second, the presidential election will actually be on November 6th. Third...well, let's just say I can't remember the third.

So for those of you in the over-21 crowd who don't want your vote to be counted, by all means go to the polls and cast your ballot for Perry on November 12!

3. Perry's "Drunken" Campaign Speech

Was Rick Perry drunk while giving this campaign speech? No seriously...was he? The governor appeared to be much more enthusiastic and ebullient than his usual self--his speech was marked by clapping, giddiness and some strange mannerisms and comments, among other things--causing some in the media and the blogosphere to wonder if he had too much to drink (or, as Andrew Sullivan so eloquently put it, "publicly lit") or was on some kind of medication during the New Hampshire public appearance.

For his part, Perry denied being on either, saying it was "a pretty typical speech for me." He elaborated: "I've probably given 1,000 speeches. There are some that have been probably boring, some that have been animated, some that have been in between." 

The speech also made for one hilarious parody on Saturday Night Live, which you can watch here.

4. Perry Rambles On About Romney

Where to begin on this one? Well, as previously discussed, Perry is a woefully bad debater. Even the lines he rehearses--and this one, as evidenced by the painful grimacing as he valiantly tries to get the script right, surely was--he somehow manages to flub. Perry was trying to attack Romney for his ever-changing record and positions, but somehow manages to end up butchering the attack.

"I think Americans just don't know sometimes which Mitt Romney they're dealing with," Perry begins strongly enough. What happened next, however, is that Perry continued to talk. "Is it the Mitt Romney that was on the side of against the Second Amendment before he was for the Second Amendment?  Was it -- was before he was before the social programs, from the standpoint of he was for standing up for Roe v. Wade before he was against Roe v. Wade?  He was for Race to the Top, he's for Obamacare, and now he's against it.  I mean, we'll wait until tomorrow and -- and -- and see which Mitt Romney we're really talking to tonight"

Huh? Say what?

In the end, Romney's response to the failed attack appears to say it all: "Nice try."


5. Perry Doesn't Know When The Revolutionary Was Fought

Is Rick Perry smarter than a 5th grader? Well, if this little gem of a speech is any indicator, the answer is a resounding "no." Speaking at a fraternity house on the Dartmouth College campus after one of the debates, Perry took a wrong turn on a question about states rights and somehow ended up botching up which century the Revolutionary War took place.

Said Perry: “One of the reasons we fought the revolution in the 16th century was to get away from that kind of onerous crown."

The Revoluationary War, of course, was actually fought in the 1700s.

Fortunately for Perry, he was not the first Republican Presidential candidate to mess up on the history of the Revolutionary War. Fellow Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann did as well. The Minnesota Congresswoman mistakenly told supporters in Concord, New Hampshire earlier this year that the Revolutionary War began there. The first shots of the Revolutionary War were actually fired in Concord, Massachusetts.

BONUS: Rick Perry Unsure What Decade, Century It Is

Perhaps remembering dates and times in general just are not one of Perry's strengths. The GOP White House contender could not even seem to remember something as simple as what decade--or century, for that matter--he was in during an appearance on CNN. In this clip, Perry attempts to demonstrate his knowledge of history by bringing up former president Woodrow Wilson. The only problem: in Perry's version, Wilson was in the White House just a decade ago. He wasn't. In fact, Wilson was president from 1913 to 1921.

So basically, Perry was only a century off in this gaffe. In other words: improvement!

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