Gaffe-Prone Perry Flubs Supreme Court Answer

Gov. Rick Perry talking to the media after the CNBC Republican presidential debate on Nov. 9, 2011.
Gov. Rick Perry talking to the media after the CNBC Republican presidential debate on Nov. 9, 2011.

Gov. Rick Perry has done it again.

In an editorial board interview with the Des Moines Register on Friday, the presidential candidate whose “oops” was heard around the world flubbed the name of a U.S. Supreme Court justice and gave the wrong number of judges on the high court.

Perry was trying to criticize liberal "activist" judges on the Supreme Court, but he struggled to produce a name.

"Uh, uh," he stammered, and then paused before saying, "not Montemayor." He looked out toward someone in the meeting and was thrown a lifeline.

"Sonia Sotomayor?" a woman can be heard saying.

"Sotomayor. Sotomayor," Perry answered, repeating the high court judge's last name. Afterward, Perry said that independently elected school boards, not the U.S. Supreme Court, should decide whether to allow prayer in schools. But he got the number of justices serving on the court wrong. 

"I trust the people of the states to make those decisions. I trust those independent school districts to make those decisions better than eight unelected and, frankly, unaccountable judges," Perry said.

There are nine Supreme Court justices.

In isolation it was a fairly innocuous mistake, but the gaffes are piling up. He has referred to the first-in-the nation primary in Iowa as the "New Hampshire caucuses." He mistakenly gave the voting age as 21 instead of 18 and put the American Revolution in the wrong century. In the mother of all gaffes, he forgot on national television the third of three government departments he wants to shut down.

Friday's flub also came a day after he said “Iran” when he meant to say “Iraq” during a question-and-answer session with senior citizens at a town hall meeting near Okatie, S.C. Members of the audience came to his rescue, shouting out "Iraq," and the governor corrected himself — all the while keeping his sense of humor.

"That'll be on the front page," he joked.

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