It is well-noted that Texas Gov. Rick Perry has performed poorly during previous GOP presidential debates and on stage in Michigan Wednesday night, he took his debate struggles to a new level as he froze while answering a question about which federal departments he would cut if elected president.
"I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education, and the -- what's the third one there? Let's see."
Rep. Ron Paul, who supports eliminating five departments prodded Perry saying he should list five. Prodded by Mitt Romney, Perry suggested the Environmental Protection Agency which isn't a full federal department.
Perry continued the awkward gaffe and wasn't able to name a third department.
"Commerce and, let's see," he continued. "I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops."
The gaffe became a headline of what had been a relatively quiet debate. Online discussion of Perry's gaffe took off on Twitter with University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato tweeting "To my memory, Perry's forgetfulness is the most devastating moment of any modern primary debate."
When debate moderators came back to Perry later for another question, he began by saying the Department of Energy was the one he was thinking of.
Speaking with reporters after the debate, Perry acknowledged his mistake, "I stepped in it man," Perry said, "yeah, it's embarassing." Perry added that he will be attending the next debate in South Carolina on Saturday and hopes to "remember the Energy Department."