Perry: Debate gaffe won't break my campaign

Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry looks at his notes during a Republican Presidential Debate at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich., Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011. AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Rick Perry brushed off a gaffe from Wednesday's debate, saying one mistake may in fact humanize him and certainly will not tank his campaign the way some strategists are predicting.

On Wednesday night in Michigan, Perry said he would cut three agencies from the federal government but could only name two of them.

"Commerce, Education and the - what's the third one there? Let's see," Perry said before his rivals volunteered the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pollution and is very unpopular with conservatives.

Later in the debate, Perry said he meant to say the Energy Department was the third agency he would eliminate. But it was too late. The awkard pause was out there for all to see.

Asked about the slip-up, Perry acknowledged on CBS' "The Early Show" that he made a mistake.

"I stepped in it is what my wife would have said," Perry said.

"All of us make mistakes. 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," Perry said.

Perry has made a series of gaffes in the debates since his late-summer entry into the race, and his lack of experience shows, especially in comparison to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

"I admit I may not be the best debater, the smoothest politician on the stage," Perry said, calling himself "an individual of substance when it comes to creating an environment where jobs can be, in fact, the focus of the entrepreneur class out there that are creating those jobs that Americans really need now."

Asked if he understood that political observers were calling it a death knell for his campaign, Perry sought to downplay his gaffe while still admitting it was a mistake.

"Any time you're standing in front of however many million people we were and you have a loss of train of thought, sure. It impacts you. But the fact is one error is not going to make or break a campaign," he said.

Perry pledged to appear at a CBS News/National Journal debate on foreign policy Saturday in South Carolina, but he would not commit to any further debates.

"I will be in South Carolina Saturday night. I don't know what my schedule is past that," Perry said. His aides have signaled the Texas governor may not participate in all the upcoming presidential debates.

More debate coverage:

Herman Cain's nickname for Pelosi: "Princess Nancy"

Cain blasts "character assassination" against him

Charged with inconsistency, Romney points to his marriage

Rick Perry fails to remember what agency he'd get rid of in GOP debate

Republicans shift from scandal to Europe crisis

  • Corbett Daly On Twitter»

    CBSNews.com Deputy Politics Editor Corbett B. Daly is based in Washington. He has worked at Reuters, Thomson Financial News and CBS MarketWatch.

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