Despite gaffes, Perry presses on, looking for surge

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on November 30, 2011 at 8:22 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 30 at 8:29 PM

Gov. Rick Perry wrapped up a two-day swing in New Hampshire Wednesday telling voters that it's time to clean up corruption in Washington and on Wall Street.

But that message was overshadowed by a growing list of blunders in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Of course, the biggest gaffe was during the November 9 CNBC debate, in which Perry was unable to recall the third government agency he had promised seconds earlier to shut down.

On Tuesday, he got the voting age and election date wrong.

And on Wednesday, a few more missteps.

Regardless, Perry's campaign vows he will continue his quest for the White House.

Starting a new day in New Hampshire — where voters are protective of their "first in the nation" primary — Perry made some new goofs while speaking.

The first came in a Fox News interview when he mentioned campaigning in New Hampshire. "Over the course of the next four to five weeks as we get ready for those New Hampshire caucuses," he said, apparently confusing the Granite State for Iowa, which is where the caucuses will take place.

Later, at a speech in referring to Americans who are out of work, Perry stated: "There are 14 million Americans out of debt," a figure he later corrected speaking before state lawmakers.

Misspeaking occasionally is no big deal, because all candidates do it. But Perry's litany of gaffes in debates and remarks feeds a narrative that he's ill-prepared for the national stage.

Although sagging in single digits in polls, Fort Worth Star Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy said Perry shouldn't quit.

"It's a very volatile race; it's a couple of months until any of the voting starts... three months until the big Super Tuesday in March," Kennedy said. "People have given Perry all this money to run; they want him to stay in the race and run."

Perry's campaign said he will continue meeting with voters to share his plan to create jobs while hammering a sharp populist line against Washington spending and Wall Street bailouts.

"The people paying the price are average Americans, Main Street businesses," the Texas governor told an audience in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Kennedy says Perry should hope to get another look from voters in the countdown to the Republican Convention.

"It's kind of like the buyers at a horse show," Kennedy said. "They're going from horse to horse checking the teeth, and they may come back around and look at Perry again."

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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