VIDEO: Gov. Perry's Brain Freeze : The Two-Way He wants to eliminate three federal agencies, the Republican presidential candidate said during Wednesday's debate. But he could only remember two. Today, he's saying that just underscores how many agencies there are "that I'd like to forget."
NPR logo VIDEO: Gov. Perry's Brain Freeze

VIDEO: Gov. Perry's Brain Freeze

We've all had it happen. A brain freeze.

But most of us don't get hit with one when we're on national TV during a Republican presidential debate.

At Wednesday night's CNBC debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry tried to tick off the three federal agencies that he would eliminate.

"It's three agencies of government when I get there that are gone," he began. "Commerce, Education and the uh, what's the third one there?" His mental mishap continues for about 50 seconds as he tries to remember the third (it's Energy). Perry, realizing he was in trouble, got through it good-naturedly. He ended with a humorous "oops."

This morning on NBC's The Today Show, Perry acknowledged that it wasn't a good moment. But, he said, there are "so many agencies of government that I'd like to forget." And his stumble, the governor said, "surely gets to the core of the line — that we've got so much government out there."

University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato calls it "the most devastating moment of any modern primary debate," Politico reports.

Such gaffes are certainly a bipartisan thing. After all, then-candidate Barack Obama said during the 2008 campaign that he had visited 57 states.