(CNSNews.com) – It was an embarrassing moment for Texas Gov. Rick Perry at Wednesday night’s debate.
As part of a discussion about taxes and regulation, Perry volunteered that as president he would cut three agencies of government, but then he couldn’t remember the third agency he’d eliminate:
“And I will tell you, it's three agencies of government, when I get there, that are gone: Commerce, Education and the -- what's the third one there -- let's see,” Perry said to laughter.
REP. RON PAUL: You need five.
GOV. PERRY: Oh, five. OK.
REP. PAUL: Make it five.
GOV. PERRY: OK. So Commerce, Education and -- the -- (pause) --
MR. ROMNEY: EPA?
GOV. PERRY: EPA. There you go. (Laughter.) (Applause.)
Moderator JOHN HARWOOD: Seriously? Is EPA the one you were talking about?
GOV. PERRY: No, sir. No, sir. We were talking about the agencies of government -- EPA needs to be rebuilt. There's no doubt about that.
MR. HARWOOD: But you can't -- but you can't name the third one?
GOV. PERRY: The third agency of government.
MR. HARWOOD: Yes.
GOV. PERRY: I would do away with the Education, the Commerce and -- let's see -- I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops.”
Later in the debate, Perry remembered the name of the third agency he would abolish – the Energy Department.
After the debate, Perry told reporters, “I’m glad I had my boots on because I really stepped in it tonight.” Perry previously has admitted he does not do well in debates.
But, he added, “People understand that it is our conservative principles that matter.”
"We all felt very bad for him," Rep. Michele Bachmann R-Minn.)said after the debate. She called the moment uncomfortable.
The flub once again makes Perry the subject of national ridicule. Last weekend, he was parodied on “Saturday Night Live,” following a speech in New Hampshire that had some viewers questioning whether he’d been drinking or taking medication – suggestions that Perry and his campaign firmly denied.