Perry Says He ‘Stepped in It’ Forgetting Energy Department

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry acknowledged today that he had “stepped in it” when he was unable to come up with the name of the third government agency he would eliminate -- the Energy Department -- if he wins the White House.

The Texas governor also said on NBC’s “Today” program that he would “continue on” in his quest for the Republican nomination.

Asked during last night’s Republican presidential debate to identify the three federal agencies he would close to help cut government spending -- specifics he talks about on the campaign trail -- Perry could name just two.

“The third agency of government I would do away with?” he said. “Education. Commerce. And let’s see. I can’t. The third one I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”

The governor of a top energy state said today on CNN that, even with his self-described “brain freeze,” he still would abolish the Department of Energy, along with the Departments of Education and Commerce.

“There are going to be people who make mistakes, stumble over words or can’t remember an agency as I did, but the seriousness is going on,” including 14 million who are unemployed, he said.

“I may not be the best debater, the slickest politician,” he said. Voters, he said, want “substance, not necessarily the slickest debater.”

Campaign Contributions

Perry wouldn’t discuss whether he was worried about a drop- off in campaign contributions. Within hours of the debate, his campaign sent an e-mail to supporters, starting with the words “We’ve all had human moments” and suggesting a $5 contribution to the campaign “for every agency you would like to forget.”

Perry said on NBC that the issue wasn’t his memory lapse, but rather “we got so much government out there, and people are so tired of government telling them how to do this, what light bulb to buy.”

He told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that at the next debate on Nov. 12, he would be “ready to talk about our plan to cut and to balance and to grow the economy.”

The American people “know there’s not a perfect candidate that’s been made yet, and I’m proof positive of it every day,” he said.

“All of us make mistakes,” he said on CBS’s “Early Show.” “I’m a human being.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Roger Runningen in Washington at rrunningen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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