- Associated Press - Thursday, November 10, 2011

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Rick Perry says he “stepped in it” during Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate, but insisted that it won’t force him out of the presidential race.

“Oh, shoot, no,” Perry told The Associated Press Thursday morning, a day after he stood on stage unable to remember the third federal department he would cut. He was asked if his campaign, struggling to regain traction, could survive. “This ain’t a day for quitting nothing.”

Perry says others have made similar mistakes and that the screw up will humanize him. “The president of the United States said there were 57 states one time. Everybody makes mistakes,” he said.

With a blitz of early morning interviews and TV appearances, the Texas governor was looking to stem any fallout Thursday from a major misstep he made the night before during a GOP presidential debate.

In Wednesday debate, Perry said he would eliminate three federal agencies but struggled to name them.

“Commerce, Education and the — what’s the third one there? Let’s see,” the Texas governor said.

Perry’s rivals tried to bail him out, suggesting the Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA, there you go,” Perry said, seemingly taking their word for it.

But that wasn’t it. And when pressed, the candidate drew another blank.

“Seriously?” moderator John Harwood, one of the CNBC debate hosts, asked. “You can’t name the third one?”

“The third agency of government I would do away with — the Education, the Commerce. And let’s see. I can’t. The third one, I can’t,” Perry said. “Oops.”

Later in the debate, Perry revisited the question and said he meant to call for the elimination of the Energy Department.

On Thursday, Perry said he just couldn’t think of it.

“There were so many federal agencies that come to mind, that I want to get rid of, that the Energy Department would not come out,” he said in an interview taped for ABC’s Good Morning America.

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