Sept 22 Texas Governor Rick Perry's embarrassing
inability to remember a government department he would eliminate
if he became president, perhaps the biggest gaffe of the 2012
election campaign, was due to chronic lack of sleep, a new book
"Oops," a diary of covering the Perry campaign by Texas
Tribune correspondent Jay Root, says Perry suffered from
insomnia for weeks before the gaffe.
The blunder occurred during a Republican presidential debate
in Rochester, Michigan on Nov. 9, 2011.
Trying to recall the three government departments he would
eliminate if he became president, Perry said: "I would do away
with the Education, the, uh, Commerce, and, let's see. I can't.
The third one I can't. Sorry. Oops."
He paused for an agonizing 53 seconds before conceding that
he could not remember the Energy department, the third agency he
Book author Root, who covered the Perry presidential
campaign from the summer of 2011 to its end in early 2012, said
Perry had battled insomnia most of the campaign.
Perry stumbled in several debates and at one debate in
Orlando, Florida, one of his answers was almost incoherent.
"Perry had kept in touch with his medical team, and by early
October, days after the Florida fiasco, the campaign had
urgently consulted sleep specialists, bringing them in
"After conducting overnight tests on Perry, they produced a
rather startling diagnosis: He had sleep apnea, and it had gone
undetected for years, probably decades," Root says.
Perry's unraveling began in earnest after back surgery in
mid-June, 2011. The Texas governor took pain killers for a few
weeks after the surgery but refused to continue them because he
said he wanted to be mentally sharp for the campaign.
By October, Perry was diagnosed with sleep apnea, a chronic
condition in which a patient sleeps so lightly that he is
constantly waking and breathing can stop for a moment. Perry was
given a machine that helps breathing become more regular during
But at the same time he complained of pain in his leg and
foot that might have been a result of the surgery. This kept him
from sleeping, Root says.
A request for comment from the governor's office on Saturday
did not receive an immediate response.
(Reporting by Corrie MacLaggan; Writing by Greg McCune; Editing
by Todd Eastham)