Rick Perry struggled for several agonizing seconds to remember the last of the three federal agencies he'd cut during Wednesday's Republican primary debate. "Commerce, Education, and the -- what's the third one there?" He looked to his left for some help from rival Ron Paul, but Paul's suggestion seemed to just make things worse -- Paul wants to kill five government agencies. Was it the Environmental Protection Agency? Yes, Perry said. Then he said it wasn't. The 53 seconds seemed like hours.
Here's the transcript of the exchange:
PERRY: The fact of the matter is we better have a plan in place that Americans can get their hands around. And that's a reason my flat tax is the only one of all of the folks -- these good folks on the stage, it balance the budget in 2020. It does the things to the regulatory climate that has to happen. And I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education, and the -- what's the third one there? Let's see.
PAUL: You need five.
PERRY: Oh, five, OK. So Commerce, Education, and the...
PERRY: EPA, there you go.
HARWOOD: Seriously, is the EPA the one you were talking about?
PERRY: No, sir, no, sir. We were talking about the agencies of government -- the EPA needs to be rebuilt. There's no doubt about that.
HARWOOD: But you can't -- but you can't name the third one?
PERRY: The third agency of government I would -- I would do away with, Education, the...
PERRY: Commerce and, let's see. I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops.