Nightly News | November 10, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Turning now to politics. The presidential race and last night's CNBC Republican debate. Even if you didn't watch the broadcast you've probably already seen what happened last night to Rick Perry . NBC 's Chuck Todd was there and is with us tonight with the moment that's really already been cemented in the history of contemporary political debates. Chuck , good evening.
CHUCK TODD reporting: Good evening, Brian . It was one of the bigger debate stumble moments maybe ever and it was by a Republican candidate who could least afford it, Rick Perry . It was 50 seconds that seemed like an eternity.
Governor RICK PERRY: 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 .
Representative RON PAUL: You need five.
Gov. PERRY: Oh, five? OK.
Rep. PAUL: Yeah.
Gov. PERRY: So commerce, education and the...
TODD: About 20 minutes later Perry finally recalled the third agency .
Gov. PERRY: And by the way, that was the Department of Energy I was reaching for a while ago, so.
TODD: Immediately after the debate Perry went into damage control mode.
Gov. PERRY: I'm glad I had my boots on tonight because I sure stepped in it out there.
TODD: And that continued this morning.
Gov. PERRY: If they'll go to rickperry.org, they can participate as well and pick which one of those federal agencies they'd like to get rid of.
As a matter of fact they can go to rickperry.org today.
TODD: For Perry , who hasn't been an official candidate for three months, this stumble is just the latest. He surged to the top of the polls in September, firing up the conservative base with provocative statements like this criticism of fed chair Ben Bernanke .
Gov. PERRY: If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa , but we'd -- we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas .
TODD: With front-runner status came attacks questioning his conservative credentials, specifically on his immigration policy as Texas governor , leading to this debate gaffe as he tried to turn the tables on Mitt Romney .
Gov. PERRY: Was it before he was before the social programs from the...
TODD: Sinking to the single digits in state polls, Perry has tried to jump-start his campaign but now encounters skepticism about everything he does on the trail including this animated speech two weeks ago in New Hampshire .
Gov. PERRY: Live free or die , victory or death. Bring it.
Mr. MIKE BARNICLE (MSNBC Contributor): It seems like Governor Perry is a perfect politics as baseball metaphor. He can hit pitching at AA ball in Alpine , Texas . He gets called up to the major leagues and he just can't do it there. So it's back home.
TODD: Perry 's gaffe overshadowed the sexual harassment cloud hanging over Herman Cain who addressed that question before a friendly audience angry at the media.
MARIA BARTIROMO reporting: Why should the American people hire a president if they feel there are character issues?
Mr. HERMAN CAIN: The American people deserve better than someone being tried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations. That's what that's about.
TODD: Cain was just as defiant today about his accusers telling Michigan supporters, quote, "Over the last couple of weeks I've been through hell. Now here's the good news. It didn't kill me." Brian :
WILLIAMS: All right. Chuck Todd from our DC newsroom after an exciting night in politics. And