Perry avoids major debate fumbles in South Carolina

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on November 12, 2011 at 10:51 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 12 at 11:22 PM

Gov. Rick Perry avoided major flubs, but not controversy, at Saturday night's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina.

Perry declared he would like to erase all foreign aid on an annual basis to force countries to explain why they need money from American taxpayers.

"The foreign aid budget in my administration for every country will start at zero dollars," he said. "I'm telling you — no dollars going into those countries."

Later, Perry clarified that his zero-basis foreign aid policy would also extend to allies like Israel, although he added he would expect to send funds to that country.

"It makes sense for everyone to come in at zero and make your case," he said.

Perry's campaign immediately issued a clarification on the issue. "Gov. Perry is a friend to Israel, and understands the challenges faced by the country," according to the written statement, which added that the candidate "does not believe weakening Israel is the road to peace."

On several occasions, Perry joked about his infamous brain freeze at Wednesday's candidate forum in Michigan.

During his explanation of foreign aid cuts, he added: "As a matter of fact, we ought to try doing that with some of those agencies I was trying to think the name of the other night."

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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