Perry laughs off debate gaffe on morning shows

The governor's on a full offensive to control the damage and says he's not quitting the race for president.

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich.-Texas Gov. Rick Perry just wants everyone to know he's human.

After an embarrassing gaffe at Wednesday night's debate in Rochester, Mich., in which Perry couldn't name a third federal agency he would eliminate -- it was the Energy Department, by the way -- the governor launched a full offensive to control the damage and said he's not quitting the race.

"I think I made an error last night-I stepped in it is what my wife would have said," Perry said on The Early Show on Thursday morning. He chuckled. "And she was right!"

In appearances on all five morning shows, Perry defended his candidacy. Despite heavy criticism of Wednesday's gaffe, he told NBC's Today show he's not dropping out of the race

He also tried to shift the conversation back to his flat-tax plan, arguing that Americans are truly interested in a plan to boost jobs rather than the "slickest politician."

"We can talk about style over substance all we want, but Americans are looking for someone who will truly give them hope that we can get this country back working again," he said on CBS. On Fox, he said, "What Americans do know is my committed, conservative values have helped lead one of the most influential states in this nation."

The campaign also sought to bring the American people in on the conversation. "We can have a little fun with this," Perry said on Today. Overnight, his campaign asked supporters in an e-mail which agency they would most like to forget.

"While the media froths over this all-too-human moment, we thought we would take this opportunity to ask your help in doing something much more constructive: write us to let us know what federal agency you would most like to forget," the email read. "Is it the EPA and its job-killing zealots? The NLRB and its czar-like dictates? The edu-crats at the Department of Education who aim to control your local curriculum?"

People were invited to send answers to or to share them on Twitter with the hash tag, #forgetmenot. For good measure, they were invited to contribute $5 for each agency they would like to eliminate -- perhaps an attempt to capitalize monetarily on a bad public moment, the way his rival Herman Cain has. Cain has posted huge fundraising numbers amid allegations he sexually harassed at least four women.

"The bottom line is we're going to get up every day and go talk to the American people," Perry said on Good Morning America. "They know there's not a perfect candidate that's been made yet. I'm proof positive of that every day."

Despite the gaffe, Perry said he is fully committed to participating in a foreign-policy debate hosted by CBS News and National Journal on Saturday night. Not only did he seem committed, he seemed confident.

"As a former Air Force pilot and somebody who has a 1,200-mile border with a foreign country, we'll be ready for the debate on Saturday," Perry pledged.

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