After Wednesday night’s “oops” moment at the Republican debate, Texas governor Rick Perry now needs just a small tap on the back to go down the cliff, with a campaign that has been on a slide since a stellar start.
Herman Cain, on the other hand, looked set to weather the stream of sexual harassment charges that could have brought down a lesser candidate. The audience jeered the moderator for bringing up the issue.
It could easily have been the night when Cain saw his campaign sink, as is widely expected. But Perry was faster at the draw, and shot himself before anyone could stop him.
One commentator called it political suicide on live TV.
Three federal departments that would be gone, if he was president, Perry started, were Commerce, Education and then he couldn’t get the third. “Commerce and, let’s see. I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”
His campaign team was quick to acknowledge that was a huge embarrassment but tried to brand it as a stylistic goof up, claiming he remains solid on substance. His message, they argued, remains strong.
Perry started at the top of the line up in August, quickly eclipsing then frontrunner former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
But he has since seen his campaign plummet through a series of disastrous debates Cain is now the leading the pack, with Romney right behind him, with a resurgent Newt Gingrich, former speaker, in third position.
His is a remarkable story of recovery, after being left for dead by his campaign staff in June.