Rick Perry's Debate Gaffe

Rick Perry's Debate Gaffe

Part of a series on 2012 Republican Presidential Primary. [View Related Entries]

Updated Feb 06, 2014 at 08:40PM EST by James.

Added Nov 10, 2011 at 01:46PM EST by Brad.

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Rick Perry’s Debate Gaffe refers to a momentary lapse of memory experienced by the Republican Governor of Texas and former presidential candidate nominee Rick Perry during the nationally televised primary debate in November 2011. The on-air blunder was met by humorous commentaries in the news and social media, as well as a series of musical remixes and parody videos on YouTube.


On November 9th, 2011, the ninth Republican Party presidential debate was held at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. During the course of the debate, Rick Perry attempted to name three federal government agencies that he would seek to eliminate if elected to presidency, but he failed to recall his third choice. After more than 50 seconds of memory lapse on stage, Governor Perry eventually gave in and uttered “oops.” Later on, the third agency was revealed as the United States Department of Energy.

“It is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, education and the … uh, um, what’s the third one there. Let’s see … ”

Notable Developments

Within minutes of the mishap, Twitter users reacted to Perry’s on-air blunder with colorful commentaries using hashtags like #oops and #CNBCdebate According to Trendistic[4], the aforementioned hashtags began trending on Twitter as early as 9 p.m. (ET) on November 9th.

The footage from the debate was near instantly uploaded onto YouTube[1], where it took over Herman Cain‘s videos relating relating to his harassment scandals on YouTube Politics channel’s Top 5 Hot Videos list.[2] The link to the YouTube clip was also submitted to Reddit[3] and made its way to the frontpage within hours.

Meanwhile, the online customer review site Yelp[6] released its latest update for the iPhone mobile app, which included a joke referencing Perry’s gaffe from the night of GOP debate:

News Media Coverage

Rick Perry’s gaffe episode was widely covered by many American daily news publications as well as political commentary programs, many of which had pointed out Perry’s lack of experience in public speech prior to the night of the GOP debate. In addition, CBS Late Night show with David Letterman announced via its Twitter feed[5] that Perry will make a guest appearance on the show on November 10th to read the talk show host’s signature “Top Ten List” segment.

Rick Perry’s Response

In a conspicuous effort to control the damage of his gaffe, Rick Perry made several appearances in the news media on the following day, including ABC Good Morning America and Fox News and CBS Late Night with David Letterman.

The campaign team also launched a new poll[9] on the following day, asking the visitor: “what part of the federal government would you like to forget about the most?” Among the list of options provided in the poll included a playful choice which read “Submit your suggestion to forgetmenot@rickperry.org.”

Notable Examples

The earliest known remix of Perry’s gaffe video was created and uploaded by John Willie Hallford, an audio-visual freelancer behind the music blog Dubnasty.com.[7] Soon, several other musical remixes followed suit, as well as a parody skit by Funny Or Die.[8]

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