Texas Gov. Rick Perry was operating under the influence of painkillers during Republican presidential debates earlier this election cycle, a new e-book by Mike Allen and Evan Thomas claims.
It "became an open secret that he was using painkillers in sufficient dosages to keep him standing through the two-hour debates," according to "Inside the Circus," which was released on Tuesday.
The Daily Caller first relayed the book's report of an incident, presumably prompted by pain medication, in which the "manager of a rival campaign" supposedly witnessed Perry belting out the lyrics to "I've Been Working on the Railroad" during a trip to the bathroom before an October debate.
"Wondering who was making all the noise, the campaign manager turned his head and saw, to his surprise, the governor of Texas," the book states. “Perry came down the row of about twenty urinals and stood companionably close by."
The authors continue: "Nonplussed, the campaign manager made a hasty exit; as the bathroom door closed, he could hear Perry still merrily singing away: "I-I-I've been working on the ra-a-i-i-l-road, all-l-l the live-long day."
Though Perry's camp has denied what they've called the "irresponsible, unsourced and unfounded 'reporting'" in the e-book, the governor's medical history over that period is well-documented. He underwent spinal surgery in the summer of 2011 to correct what his aides had characterized as chronic back problems. His treatment for the ailment included experimental stem cell therapy.
While Perry had downplayed the size and scope of the injury and subsequent medical procedures, some had speculated that his apparent discomfort on the debate stage, both in physical demeanor and mental clarity, may have been consequences of his back problems.
Questions about Perry's mental state arose quickly after a particularly unusual speech in the fall, during which he appeared to ramble and slur over certain passages. Organizers of the event and spokespeople for the Perry campaign denied suggestions that he may have been drunk while speaking.
The most devastating moment of the campaign was yet to come, however, when Perry proved unable to recall the three agencies he planned to cut as president at a debate in November.
A month later, Perry admitted to the Des Moines Register that his back problems and resulting "fatigue" had complicated his campaign efforts.
Below, a look back at Rick Perry's gaffes:
At the CNBC debate on November 9, Perry famously forgot one of the government agencies he would eliminate if elected: "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."
During a campaign stop 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.
During a November interview 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.
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."
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."
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.
In an interview 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.
In October, an unusual performance 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.
During an interview with the Today Show last November, Perry told host Meredith Viera that "Bush did an incredible job, in the presidency, defending us from freedom."
While speaking with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, Perry struggled to remember Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's name: "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.