Perry tries to laugh off disastrous slip-up at key debate
Published 12/11/2011 | 05:00
GOVERNOR Rick Perry of Texas has tried to laugh off his disastrous debate performance, appearing on a late-night comedy show to offer a Top 10 of excuses for his recent memory lapse.
The excruciating footage of Mr Perry, once the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination and seen as the main challenger to Mitt Romney, struggling for 53 seconds and failing to recall the third government department he would abolish, has been played millions of times around the world.
From the moment the debate in Michigan ended, the Perry campaign decided the only thing it could do was admit the mistake, use it to try to make the candidate seem human and attempt to create a minute of television that might trump it.
Mr Perry went some way to achieving that by taking the stage on the 'Late Show with David Letterman' on CBS in a feature entitled: "Top 10 Rick Perry Excuses".
Smiling broadly and showing comic timing, he reeled off his excuses. Number nine was: "I don't know what you're talking about. I thought it went well."
Perhaps the best received was number six: "You try concentrating when Mitt Romney's smiling at you. That is one handsome dude!" Number four was: "I had a five-hour energy drink six hours before the debate." There were enthusiastic responses for number two, a reference to a rival accused of sexual harassment: "I wanted to help take the heat off my buddy Herman Cain."
Mr Perry's top excuse was a play on the story that a teenage singer had allegedly made a fan pregnant during a brief backstage encounter: "I just heard Justin Bieber is my father."
The Letterman appearance was played extensively yesterday. But Mr Perry's political fortunes showed no signs of improvement. A Quinnipiac University poll found only single digit support among a cluster of Republican also-rans.
In three swing states -- Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- Mr Perry's support doesn't exceed 5pc, according to the poll conducted between October 31 and November 7.
In an e-mail sent within hours of the debate's end, the Perry campaign encouraged supporters to "let us know what federal agency you would most like to forget".
Mr Perry led Republicans in fundraising in the third quarter, collecting $17.2m (€12.5m) and entering October with more money banked than rivals, Federal Election Commission reports show. In television appearances yesterday, Mr Perry said he was committed to continuing his bid for the presidency. He will be ready, he said, for the next debate tomorrow in South Carolina. (© Daily Telegraph, London)