Rick Perry forgets third agency he plans to cut during CNBC debate, Newt Gingrich gains momentum

Rick Perry

Online Staff Report

In a Republican presidential primary season that has featured numerous frontrunners, alleged sexual harassment against Herman Cain, and incessant finger-pointing and political heehawing between Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, it’s not surprising candidates may have trouble remembering their own platforms.

During a Nov. 9 debate hosted by CNBC and the Michigan Republican Party at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., Perry — a former frontrunner in the race — said he would cut three agencies from the federal government. However, after naming the first two, he could not recall the third.

Commerce, Education and the — what’s the third one there? Let’s see,” Perry said. After drawing a blank, Perry’s opponents offered the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pollution and is unpopular with many conservatives.

Appearing on CBS’s The Early Show Nov. 10, Perry explained his memory lapse as follows: “I stepped in it is what my wife would have said.

All of us make mistakes,” Perry continued. “I’m a human being. And the issue here is that I had a lapse of memory. So many federal agencies were coming to mind that I forgot the one I was trying to think of, which is the Energy Department.”

Republicans, who have yet to find a clear favorite in the field of candidates, originally embraced Perry as a newcomer to the race. In an Aug. 27 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Perry was the clear frontrunner, garnering 38 percent, with Romney trailing behind in second with 23 percent. Meantime, Cain, who has since experienced frontrunner status, had just 5 percent in that poll.

The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, taken between Nov. 2 and 5, shows Romney at 28 percent, Cain at 27 percent, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at 13 percent, Perry and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) at 10 percent, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) at 4 percent, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) at 2 percent and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at 0 percent.

Gingrich, who has maintained a fairly low profile by avoiding the finger-pointing and shouting matches, has performed adequately in each debate and continues to gain in the polls.

As reported by The Washington Post’s “The Fix,” by Chris Cillizza:

Gingrich’s debate performance was greeted with cheers within the debate hall and almost certainly will be enough to afford him some momentum as conservatives — wary of Cain and done with Perry — look for the next big thing.

As we noted above, Gingrich’s ability to grow in the race has limits — no organization and little message discipline aren’t the pillars on which a successful presidential race is typically built — but with a series of debates set for the next few weeks, he will get plenty of free media that should keep him on the minds of conservatives.”

Politico reported Nov. 10 that a pro-Gingrich “super political action committee,” Solutions 2012, was formed around the time of the Nov. 9 GOP debate. The Politico report quoted Solutions 2012 head Charlie Smith, a former College Republicans chairman, who said: “If Rick Perry gave that performance [Nov. 9 debate] as the Republican nominee, they wouldn’t have to count the ballots; it would be over on the spot. Compare that to Newt, who showed the kind of intellect that conservatives have long known and respected. That contrast will absolutely lead to more support for Newt.”

Gingrich’s gains are putting pressure on the No. 2 contender in the polls, Cain, whose campaign faces issues of its own. Cain, 65, the former chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, faces allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior made by at least two female employees who worked with Cain while he was the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. Cain has denied the allegations, but the controversy has corresponded with his campaign experiencing a slight decline in the polls.

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