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Mr. Self-Destruct?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry's debate woes promp questions about whether he will last in the presidential race.

It's still early, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign may be defined by one word: Oops.

Although the GOP debate Saturday night seemed to be a better one for Perry, even joking about his most recent memory lapse, it is last Wednesday's debate that has many questioning how far he will really go.

The longtime chief executive of the Lone Star State came into the 2012 race for the White House with high expectations. But he fell behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney after a series of substandard debate performances. And another widely panned debate effort last Wednesday may have driven Perry further down in the proverbial hole.

That’s because Perry fumbled badly when he tried to name three cabinet-level executive agencies he would eliminate if he were president. He named two—the Department of Commerce and the Department of Education. But, in an awkward series of moments, he couldn’t name the third.

“I can’t, the third one. I can’t,” Perry said. “Oops.”

Reaction to the gaffe was swift and brutal. Via Twitter, noted political analyst Larry Sabato said “Perry's forgetfulness” was the “most devastating moment of any modern primary debate.”

Ronald Reagan lost his way in an '84 debate w/ Mondale BUT RR was a popular POTUS with roaring economy,” Tweeted Sabato. “Is it possible that Perry's campaign ended tonight? Sounds harsh but it was that bad. I actually HOPE he was on drugs. Would explain it.”

By Thursday, Perry had to clamp down reports that he was ending his campaign. Not exactly an ideal spot for a presidential candidate.

The blunder came at an unfortunate time, as Perry could have benefitted if Republican competitor Herman Cain slips in the polls. Cain—a Georgia businessman who 

Perry is going to have financial resources and organization to compete. But if the slipup proves to be too much for Perry to climb out of, it will be interesting to see if another candidate benefits if the air comes out of Cain’s proverbial polling balloon.

Or, as Politico wrote Thursday, it may just mean Romney's path to the nomination gets a lot easier.

HANCOCK PASSES

Former U.S. Congressman Mel Hancock passed away this week at the age of 82. The Republican from southwestern Missouri himself may not have been a household name in the St. Louis area, but an amendment that he pushed in the 1980s still impacts governmental bodies around the Show Me State.

As Associated Press reporter David Lieb noted, the so-called “Hancock Amendment” prompted public policy sea change. The measure—which placed a limit on state revenues—sparked the issuance of refund checks during the booming 1990s. Lieb noted the refunds prompted lawmakers to enact a series of tax breaks.

A number of high-ranking Republican officials this week commemorated Hancock’s life.

“Throughout his life, Mel was a tireless advocate for lower taxes and smaller government,” said David Cole, chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, in a statement.

“He will be remembered most for the passage of the Hancock Amendment in 1980, years before he was ever elected to public office. Mel’s efforts as a private citizen put Missouri at the forefront of the populist revolt against excessive government spending,”  he said.

Republican congressional candidate Ann Wagner Tweeted that Hancock was “a conservative champion of limiting government and tax reform. He will certainly be missed.”

And Wagner’s opponent in the GOP primary—attorney Ed Martin—Tweeted that Hancock’s legacy“is true citizen protection from gov't spending.”

Condolences go out to Hancock’s family.

MEET THE NEW BOSS

A few weeks ago, I wrote about 

The Washington Missourian reported this week that state Rep. Scott Dieckhaus, R-Washington, is expected to become interim executive director of the agency that provides assistance to GOP state legislative candidates.

Dieckhaus—whose district encompasses parts of Franklin and St. Charles counties—told the Missourian he will serve as executive director until a permanent replacement for Willard is found.

The committee provides help to candidates—usually through various types of advertisements—to Republican candidates running for office. The HRCC, for example, provided help for 

About this column: A look around the region at the week that was in electoral politics and a glimpse of the week to come.
 

CORRECTION: This story was corrected on Nov. 15 to reflect the two departments Perry named as Department of Commerce and the Department of Education. 

Maya November 15, 2011 at 05:24 AM
Oops, again! This time for Jason Rosenbaum and editors. Gov. Perry named consistently the Department of Education (not Energy) and then named the department of Commerce once, after which forgot both the Department of Commerce and the EPA. It is embarrassing that people with this tragic communication inadequacy are governing parts of the U.S. and are able to raise funds by convincing others that they would be able to govern the country to success. How can we even begin to consider such mediocrity a viable option for one of the most inspiring countries in the world!
Gabrielle Biondo November 15, 2011 at 02:53 PM
Thanks so much Maya for the catch! A correction has been posted in the story.

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