Reporting Jon Keller
BOSTON (CBS) – Can one stumble be the end of a campaign?
Yes it can, as history shows us, when the blunder feeds a preexisting concern about a candidate’s fitness. Governor Rick Perry’s previous debate performances had already raised doubts about him. Wednesday night’s gaffe raised even more.
Perry stumbled when answering what government agencies he would eliminate. “Its three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: Commerce, education and uh.. What’s the third one?”
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When Rick Perry entered the race three months ago, he soared to the top of the polls. But after last night, despite his efforts to laugh it off the future looks grim for Perry.
Why was that so disastrous? Consider some other memorable debate gaffes.
President Ford’s premature liberation of Eastern Europe in 1976 fueled existing doubts about his competence.
And a 1988 blunder did little to dispel Michael Dukakis’ image as a bloodless technocrat.
Debate moderator Bernard Shaw asked, “If Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?
“No I don’t Bernard,” responded Dukakis.
Like those other fiascoes, Perry’s self-described brain freeze meshes neatly with a growing sense that he’s not ready for prime time.
It’s the law of gravity, campaign-style: what goes up, must come down.
A word of caution, in this hyper-caffeinated political news cycle where every day seems to yield a new controversy, Perry’s brain-lock could be quickly forgotten. Then again, there’s yet another debate on Saturday night. Another chance for Perry to prove debating is not his strong suit.