GOV. PERRY: … And I will tell you, it’s three agencies of government, when I get there, that are gone: Commerce, Education and the — what’s the third one there — let’s see. (Laughter.)
REP. PAUL: You need five.
GOV. PERRY: Oh, five. OK.
REP. PAUL: Make it five.
GOV. PERRY: OK. So Commerce, Education and — the — (pause) —
MR. ROMNEY: EPA?
GOV. PERRY: EPA. There you go. (Laughter.) (Applause.)
MS. BARTIROMO: Let’s go —
MR: HARWOOD: Seriously? Is EPA the one you were talking about?
GOV. PERRY: No, sir. No, sir. We were talking about the agencies of government — EPA needs to be rebuilt. There’s no doubt about that.
MR. HARWOOD: But you can’t — but you can’t name the third one?
GOV. PERRY: The third agency of government.
MR. HARWOOD: Yes.
GOV. PERRY: I would do away with the Education, the Commerce and — let’s see — I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.
Debate transcript per The New York Times.
By now, you’ve seen the clip of Governor Rick Perry hitting a mental brick wall in last night’s debate. It’s painful to watch. This morning’s papers are full of the suggestion that this effectively ended his candidacy. Why? Why would anyone believe that? We elected George W. Bush, twice. (Okay, maybe just the once in 2004, but it’s time to let that go.) This is the party that elevated Sarah Palin to nominee for Vice President of the United States, and has since practically canonized her for her folksy inability to speak in complete sentences. Republican voters don’t want intellect, they want someone like them to be in charge. Republican power brokers want someone they can control. Rick Perry is doing a brilliant job in both regards. The best part about that clip isn’t actually his brain freeze, which could happen to anyone. No, the real genius of Perry is that he makes absolutely sure that we know he isn’t an otherwise competent man drawing a blank. He looks to Ron Paul – clearly the brains of this group – to give him the name of the third agency he’d cut. When Paul says he needs to cut five (Paul’s own plan), Perry agrees with him. “Oh, five, OK.” WHAT?!?! Then Romney suggests it’s the EPA, and again Perry agrees, until the moderator questions him directly about whether cutting the EPA is actually Perry’s plan. If Romney had been thinking more quickly, he could have gotten Perry to say he’d eliminate the Defense Department. Folksy, incompetent, and transparently manipulable? He’s the Republican Party’s dream.
When asked if he would stay in the race, Perry replied, “This ain’t a day for quittin’ nothin’.” Shoot, y’all. I think this guy has a chance to be President.