GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry gets tongue-tied during a recent interview over the name of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. NBC's Carrie Dann reports.
DES MOINES, IA -- The flubs keep on coming.
In yet another campaign day marred by a slip-up, Texas Gov. Rick Perry produced headlines today during an important editorial board interview with the Des Moines Register -- not for his impassioned defense of a controversial new TV ad about his faith, but instead for a mealy-mouthed screw up.
"Montemayor?" he said, struggling to name one of the nine Supreme Court justices. He went on to blast the court as "eight unelected and frankly unaccountable judges. "
There are nine.
Since his infamous inability to remember the third of three government agencies he'd eliminate during the CNBC debate in Michigan last month, Perry's every verbal pratfall has offered the lead paragraph in news stories and the lead joke in late-night comedy shows. Mistakes that might be downplayed from more consistently articulate candidates get spotlight treatment for the Texas pol, whose "swagger" narrative deteriorated quickly as his gaffes grew more and more frequent.
Friday's torrent of "Brain Freeze Again?" headlines was reminiscent of those after a recent campaign stop in New Hampshire, where Perry's pitch to repair his damaged credentials on border security were derailed by a numerical mixup. "Those of you that will be 21 by November the 12th, I ask for your support and your vote," he declared to titters from those who recognized the voting age error. (Oh, and the election isn't on the 12th.)
Trying to correct for the bungle, Perry took to the TV airwaves to discuss his efforts to perform well in the "New Hampshire caucuses."
The growing vulnerability isn't lost on the candidate himself. As recently as yesterday, when the campaign hoped to make a splash by highlighting Perry's support from veterans, he grimly predicted that a brief mixup of Iran and Iraq at a South Carolina town hall would be "on the front page of the something."
Maybe not the "front page," but the Associated Press and countless other outlets wrote about it.
Many in Team Perry privately express frustration that the flubs are written about with such emphasis in comparison to Perry's rivals. Conservative commentators frequently point to what they see as undercoverage of President Barack Obama's misstatements (see: states, 57). And the campaign has openly pushed to make the infamous "oops" soundbite into a "human moment" rather than as a devastating display of mental floundering.
At least some voters see it that way.
When the candidate's wife knocked on her door last month in Spartanburg, SC -- when the "oops" moment was at its rawest -- retiree Martha Williams mentioned the flub unsolicited, causing winces from the assembled staff.
"That's all right, I thought it was quite funny," Williams went on. "I think it shows he's a human."
"He is," Anita Perry responded. "Thank you."