Well, for about 74 minutes Rick Perry was delivering his best debate performance since he announced his presidential candidacy on August 13. His grammar was not always perfect, he did not fully flesh out his points, but he was forceful, dynamic and seemingly in command. He deftly bragged of the success of his policies in Texas and did better than ever before in explaining how they related to what he might do as president.
Then came the moment when just about every viewer must have concluded that he ended any chance that he could be a viable candidate: when he couldn’t remember the third of the three federal departments he had proposed to eliminate.
My younger colleagues at the Washington Examiner twittered that this was the worst moment in a presidential debate for a candidate they had ever seen. Well, I have been watching presidential debates since the first Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960, and it was the worst moment in a debate I have ever seen too.
In 1980, Jimmy Carter seemed to be relying on his 13-year-old daughter for advice on international strategy:
In 1984, President Reagan gave a big opening to Walter Mondale in their first debate.
In the 1988 vice presidential debate, Dan Quayle gave an even bigger opening to Lloyd Bentsen: