The political commentariat agrees that Rick Perry’s “oops” last night could well doom his campaign. Donors will peel off in favor of other candidates. Voters will lose confidence in him.

What the political commentariat can’t quite agree on, though, was how many agonizing, embarrassing, confounding seconds the stumble took to unfold.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post:

The 43-second stumble that was Perry’s attempt to name the three federal agencies he would eliminate as president will go into presidential debate folklore as one of the most awkward moments ever.


A visibly flustered Rick Perry was reduced to “Oops” after a painful 45 seconds of trying to remember the name of the third of three federal agencies he would cut at a Republican presidential debate in Rochester, Michigan, on Wednesday.

The New York Times:

“The third one, I can’t,” he finally said, a sad look on his face, after 53 seconds had gone by. “Sorry. Oops.”

Now, if the media were running for the Republican presidential nomination, this would be a line of attack for the media’s opponents in the race. Well, Candidate Media changes his answer every time he’s asked about the stumble time. First we hear it’s 43, then 45, then 53.

Candidate Media would get blasted on the question at the next debate by some hotshot moderator: So, Candidate Media, you’ve taken some criticism from your opponents on the duration of the Rick Perry stumble. Just what is your final answer on that question? Some operative would probably craft a windsurfer commercial slamming Candidate Media’s flip-flops on the issue.

To make matters more inconsistent, I’m saying it’s 52 seconds, per the clip on top of this post.