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On Night Marred By Perry Gaffe, Paul Stays The Course

Photo by Gage Skidmore for the Texas Tribune

Pundits came away from last night's Republican Primary debate talking almost exclusively about Rick Perry's 53-second, awkward gaffe during which he forgot the name of the third federal governmental agency he would eliminate if elected to the White House.

But perhaps lost in the mire was the candidate who appeared to be trying to help Perry: The other Texan running for the Republican nomination, Congressman Ron Paul.  

Perry turned to Paul and counted on his fingers as he struggled to remember, "Commerce, Education, and... what's the other one?"

Paul blunted the awkwardness slightly by shifting focus to his plan to eliminate even more federal departments.

"You need five," he said. "You need five."

But Perry continued, "Oh five, oh okay. So Commerce, Education, and the uh, um," as he looked to Paul for help. By that point, Paul apparently had nothing more to add.

According to a report published by the Detroit Free Press last night, a group of 400 watching the debate at the Oakland University student center, just outside Detroit, ranked Paul and Mitt Romney as their favorites.

Paul stuck to his platform of eliminating "big government" and cutting spending.  "The disease is spending.  That is the reason I go after spending.  I propose in the first year, cut 1 trillion dollars out of the budget in five departments."

Nonetheless, Paul is still seen by many to be a fringe candidate, consistently garnering about 10 percent of Republican support in most polls. 

KUT's Ben Philpott was at last night's debate and says that Paul "made no mistakes," but "nothing he said was new, nothing he said was groundbreaking.  He knows his stances backwards and forwards because he doesn't vary them by the political winds."

The next Republican presidential debate will take place on the Wofford College campus in Spartanburg, South Carolina on Saturday. 

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