Calling his debate gaffe "humanizing," Texas Gov. Rick Perry brushed off suggestions that his lapse in memory would have any ill effect on his floundering presidential campaign.
"The fact is one error is not going to make or break a campaign," Perry said. "All of us make mistakes. I'm a human being."
In Wednesday night's debate in Michigan, Perry was unable to name the third government agency he pledged to cut.
"I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education and the--what's the third one there?"
He went through the list again, and after a few more seconds unable to recall the third agency, opponent Mitt Romney offered the Environmental Protection Agency.
"EPA, there you go," Perry said. When moderator John Harwood asked if the EPA was indeed the agency eluding his memory, Perry admitted it was not.
"The third agency of government I would -- I would do away with Education, the Commerce, and, let's see. I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops."
"Oh my," was heard murmured by someone close to the stage.
Social media outlets lit up immediately after Perry's memory lapse, with many on both the right and the left calling his performance embarrassing.
Perry insisted the moment did not signal the death of his campaign, that it was simply evidence of his weakness as a debater, not lack of substance as a government official.
"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."
Debates have proven to be Perry's Achilles heel: he shot to the top of the GOP pack upon entering the race in August, only to plummet after several widely panned debate performances. In a decade of governor races in Texas, Perry rarely debated his opponents.