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The Brief: Nov. 11, 2011

A humbled Rick Perry put on a happy face Thursday, but his infamous flub and the inevitable fallout have left his campaign shaken.

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The Big Conversation:

A humbled Rick Perry put on a happy face Thursday, but his infamous flub and the inevitable fallout have left his campaign shaken.

Perry, following a string of radio and TV appearances, appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman on Thursday to deliver the night's "Top 10" list: excuses for his monumental debate gaffe — forgetting the third of three agencies he has said he would eliminate — at the CNBC presidential debate on Wednesday. (No. 1? "I just learned Justin Bieber is my father.")

But behind the scenes, while Perry on his media blitz tried to characterize the misstep as a human moment, growing doubts among the governor's allies about his staying power — and, specifically, his fundraising abilities, which until now had been regarded as one of his strengths — began to surface.

“It’s been tough the last couple of weeks, and it’s going to get tougher,” a source close to Perry's fundraising team told the Tribune's Jay Root.

Time also reported today that dozens of major Perry donors have begun reconsidering their support in light of Thursday's debate. “I’ve heard a lot of concern from folks — not just today but over the last few weeks,” one donor said. The gaffe "kind of encapsulated a lot of those concerns. It was brutal.”

The episode has demoralized Perry supporters who saw an opening for the governor — in Iowa, especially — to mount a comeback as sexual harassment allegations engulfed Herman Cain's candidacy. Iowa remains crucial, supporters say, but money trouble, an ascendant Newt Gingrich and a new ad push from front-runner Mitt Romney could complicate Perry's chances there.

“We’ve got to be first or second in Iowa,” a source in Perry’s fundraising network told the Tribune. “We need some momentum.”

Some, though, see Perry with no path to recovery. “Once they’re laughing at you, you’re finished,” Republican strategist Mark McKinnon told the Houston Chronicle. “Perry is now a dead man walking. He’ll go through the motions to save face, but he won’t get a single new voter. And he will quickly lose the ones he had.”

Culled:

  • Herman Cain sits atop the GOP field in a new CBS News poll with 18 percent of the vote, ahead of the latest surging Republican, Newt Gingrich, who now ties Mitt Romney for second with 15 percent. Though Cain leads, as he has for a few weeks now in several polls, he has lost some support among women and Tea Party supporters, according to the new survey, which was conducted after sexual harassment allegations against Cain broke.
  • Rick Perry's "oops" moment has inspired a number of political reporters, at The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others, to try their hand at health reporting in an attempt to parse the neuroscience of the "brain freeze." As the Times speculates, Perry's direct glance at U.S. Rep. Ron Paul on stage may have disrupted his train of thought, causing the flub. Slate also has a look at the history of the word "oops," deftly noting, "It’s unclear whether Britney Spears’s 2000 single 'Oops! ... I Did It Again' has increased the popularity of the expression in recent years."
  • As the Austin American-Statesman reports, two Central Texas school districts — Hutto and Dripping Springs — have been left scrambling to find a school-funding alternative after voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to raise property taxes. Both districts, which have already cut millions of dollars from their budgets, said they would have to absorb the reductions that the tax increase would have offset. "We tried to stay as far away from the classroom as possible, but that will be increasingly difficult in the future," said Mard Herrick, the Dripping Springs superintendent. Of the 13 proposed tax increases on ballots across the state Tuesday, nine passed.

"You try concentrating with Mitt Romney smiling at you. That is one handsome dude!" — No. 6 on Rick Perry's "Top 10" reasons for his debate flub, on The Late Show with David Letterman

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