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Rick Perry Has Another 'Oops' Moment Campaigning Ahead Of Iowa Caucus 2012

PHILIP ELLIOTT   01/02/12 10:58 PM ET  AP

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, campaigning in Iowa's heavily conservative northwest corner the day before Tuesday's caucuses, urged conservatives to support one of their own who hasn't been part of the Washington and Wall Street establishments.

Perry continued to have trouble with the details as he addressed potential supporters in a Sioux City hotel lobby Monday afternoon. In challenging rival Rick Santorum's support for home-state projects funded with federal money, the Texas governor referred to "the Bridge to Nowhere in Arizona." Actually, the project that became a symbol of runaway pork-barrel spending was planned for Alaska.

He got that detail right later in Carroll as his campaign bus rumbled toward a jam-packed caucus-eve rally in Perry, Iowa, that featured Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

"When we win the big Iowa caucuses tomorrow, that's the only one that matters," a buoyant Perry told supporters.

Yet the error earlier in the day underscored concerns about Perry's mastery of basic facts.

During one debate, he pledged to eliminate three federal agencies but failed to remember which ones he was talking about. He confused Iraq and Iran during a town hall meeting in South Carolina, and last weekend, he confused the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

That's part of the reason Perry has tried to make the focus of his speeches his rivals' weaknesses.

Perry singled out Santorum, whose recent rise in polling appears to come at the expense of the Texas governor and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. The three are widely seen as competing for the more conservative caucus-goers, particularly evangelicals driven by social issues, in the contest to pick a challenger to President Barack Obama.

"He's raised the debt limit more than Obama's raised the debt limit," Perry said of Santorum, pointing to the former Pennsylvania congressman and senator's eight votes to increase the nation's borrowing power.

Turning to another rival, Rep. Ron Paul, Perry said the Texas congressman's foreign policy was tantamount to "appeasement."

"We will be living in the 1930s again," he said. "Let me tell you, when Ron Paul is further to the left on foreign policy than Barack Obama, that ought to tell you something. That is a dangerous situation."

Perry challenged his rivals' potential and cited his own record as Texas' longest-serving governor in arguing for his candidacy.

"Why would you settle for anything other than an authentic conservative who will fight for your views and values and not make an apology for them, not one time?" he asked. "Are we going to replace a Democrat insider with a Republican insider and expect to get any change in Washington, D.C.?"

Continuing his core argument that he has experience creating jobs and dealing with issues that face the nation, he said: "It's easy to get up and say, `You know, gee, I wish I'd have been on the field, I would have run that touchdown in.' ... We done it in Texas."

The race remains fluid and Iowans are still shopping for candidates.

"I think he's an excellent candidate, but I'm still not decided," said Paul Massey, a 65-year-old eyeglass salesman from Sioux City who visited Perry. "He is saying what I want to hear and he is sincere for sure. But I want to make sure I vote for and caucus for someone who is a winner."

Also on HuffPost:

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  • "Oops"

    At the CNBC debate on November 9, Perry <a href="" target="_hplink">famously forgot</a> one of the government agencies he would eliminate if elected: <blockquote>"It's three government agencies when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education and the um, what's the third one there. Let's see," Perry said. He turned to Texas Rep. Ron Paul, looking for some help, but got nothing but a remark from Paul that he would eliminate five agencies. "Oh five," Perry said. "So Commerce, Education, and, uh, the uh, um, um." "EPA?" offered former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. "EPA, there ya go," Perry said as the room exploded in laughter. CNBC moderator John Harwood honed in and pressed Perry: "Seriously? Is EPA the one you were talking about?" "No sir. No sir. We were talking about the, um, agencies of government," Perry said. "The EPA needs to be rebuilt." "But you can't name the third one?" Harwood persisted. "The third agency of government," Perry said. "I would do away with the education, the um, Commerce, and let's see. I can't think of the third one. I can't. Sorry. Oops."</blockquote>

  • Voting Age Flub

    <a href="" target="_hplink">During a campaign stop</a> at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, Perry got both the voting age and the date of the 2012 presidential election wrong. "Those of you that will be 21 by November the 12th, I ask for your support and your vote," he said to the students. The legal voting age has been 18 since the 26th Amendment was adopted in 1971. The general election is scheduled for November 6, 2012.

  • New Hampshire... Caucus?

    During a November <a href="" target="_hplink">interview </a>with Fox News, Perry mistakenly referred to the New Hampshire "caucuses." When asked about the emergence of front runners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, Perry responded, "Americans haven't decided yet at all who they want to lead the Republican nomination, and we're going to be talking about that and we're going to be talking about it in harsh and strong terms over the course of the next four to five weeks as we get ready for those New Hampshire caucuses." New Hampshire holds primaries, not caucuses.

  • Minimum Age To Run For President

    While speaking to Catcher Jones, a seven-year-old from Greenville, South Carolina in December, Perry flubbed the minimum age to run for president. "I'm glad you're not 21," Perry told Jones, who was wearing a t-shirt that said "Future President: Accepting Campaign Donations Now." Perry realized his mistake and added, "Or actually 35."

  • War With Iran

    After a woman in South Carolina asked Perry what he thought about current United States military operations, Perry mistakenly started talking about the wars in Afghanistan and Iran. When an audience member alerted Perry to his error, he joked that his comment "will be on the front page."

  • Revolutionary War

    Following a debate in New Hampshire, Perry met with fraternity brothers at Dartmouth College. When someone asked him about the issue of states' rights, Perry said that one of the "reasons we fought the revolution in the 16th century was to get away from that kind of onerous crown." The Revolutionary War occurred in the 18th century.

  • Decade Mix-Up

    <a href="" target="_hplink">In an interview</a> with CNN last year, Perry got stuck in a time warp. "Washington has abused the Constitution. You go back to the, a decade ago, with Woodrow Wilson..." Wilson was president from 1913 to 1921.

  • Bizarre Campaign Speech

    In October, <a href="" target="_hplink">an unusual performance</a> at a speech in Manchester led many to question the candidate's sobriety. Perry later made a statement to dispel rumors that he was drinking or using painkillers during the speech.

  • Bush Was Good At "Defending Us From Freedom"

    During an interview with the <em>Today Show</em> last November, Perry told host Meredith Viera that "Bush did an incredible job, in the presidency, defending us from freedom."

  • "Montomayor"

    While speaking with the editorial board of the <em>Des Moines Register</em>, <a href="" target="_hplink">Perry struggled</a> to remember Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's name: <blockquote>"Do you really think he [President Barack Obama] is waging a war on religion?" asked an editorial board member, referring to Perry's recent ad pledging to "end Obama's war on religion" and "fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage" as president. "I do because when you see his appointment of two -- from my perspective, inarguably -- activist judges, whether it was," he said, then trailing off for about six seconds trying to recall her name. "Montomayor," he said. Someone on the editorial board said Sotomayor's name. "Sotomayor and [Elena] Kagan, who are both activist judges," he continued.</blockquote>

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Filed by Luke Johnson  |