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November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Once again television has played a crucial role in a presidential candidacy. Just as sweating on camera during his debate with John F. Kennedy may have cost Richard Nixon the presidency in 1960, a memory freeze that made former Republican frontrunner Rick Perry look foolish during Wednesday’s Republican debate would seem to have doomed his candidacy. During the CNBC telecast, Perry declared that if elected he would abolish three Cabinet agencies, “Commerce, Education, and the — what’s the third one there? Let’s see…Okay. Commerce, Education, and the –” A deadly pause. Moderator Maria Bartiromo: “You can’t name the third one?” Perry: “The third agency of government I would — I would do away with Education, the — Commerce…Commerce and, let’s see. I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.” Grace Wyler, who covers politics for The Business Insider website, called it a “spectacular meltdown” that would redound to the benefit of the besieged frontrunner, Herman Cain. “By the end of the debate, it was clear that the video of Perry forgetting the name of one of the federal agencies he wants to get rid of … is going to dominate the news cycle for the next 48 hours or so,” she wrote. “That’s just long enough for everyone to forget what Cain may or may not have done at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.” Wrote Molly Ball on The Atlantic magazine’s website, “The slip was nothing short of a disaster for Perry, who badly needed a solid debate performance — for once — if he was ever to put his campaign back on course.” And Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, tweeted: “To my memory Perry’s forgetfulness is the most devastating moment of any modern primary.”