Top 5 GOP Candidate Gaffes of 2011

When it came to comedy, the GOP presidential candidates didn't disappoint.


Forget Saturday Night Live. If you were looking for funny television over the past few months, you probably tuned into one of the 273 GOP debates, featuring the comedic finesse of some of the nation's top politicians and businessmen.

From the catastrophic crash-and-burn moment—er, near minute—of Rick Perry's campaign to the post-debate musings of Michele Bachmann on the (un)scientifically-proven connection between the HPV vaccine and retardation, here's a look back at (some of) the top gaffes, flubs, misstatements, and blunders of the 2011 GOP presidential candidate lineup.

Rick Perry's 53-second fumble (a.k.a. "Oops"). As fast as Rick Perry stormed the GOP presidential nominee scene, he's virtually a non-player now, according to some observers. When asked to name the three federal agencies he would eliminate as president—a key component of his plan, Cut, Balance, Grow—Perry answered, "Commerce, Education, and the uh...what's the third one there?"

After watching Perry squirm on national television for a bit, another candidate offered a lifeline: "The EPA?"

But, after a hefty serving of awkward laughter and attempting to shift conversation to reforming the EPA, Perry finally admitted he couldn't remember. Maybe the two words that sealed the fate of his bid for president?

"Sorry … oops."

Jon Huntsman does not attain Nirvana. For better or worse, Huntsman has remained under the radar for most of 2011, with a few notable exceptions. In the course of mocking Mitt Romney's book No Apology, Huntsman bungled a reference to the Nirvana song "All Apologies," saying "I don't know if [No Apology] was written by Kurt Cobain or not…"

Laugh, chuckle … humor? Not so much.

For starters, (understandably) no one in the audience got the reference, and the difference between Romney's book—No Apology—and Nirvana's song—"All Apologies"—is kind of glaring.

"If you're going to traffic in relative obscurity, at least get it right," wrote U.S. News blogger Scott Galupo.

Michele Bachmann finds the missing link between HPV and retardation. Following a debate performance in September, Bachmann—who slammed Perry for mandating that young girls get the HPV vaccine—apparently had a heart-to-heart with a supporter whose daughter "suffered mental retardation as a result [of the HPV vaccine]," Bachmann told Fox News.

Trouble is, there's no evidence to support the claim that the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation. "The most charitable analysis that can be offered in this case for Bachmann is that she got duped into repeating a vaccine-scare urban legend on national television," wrote Ed Morrissey of Hot Air, adding that the once-Tea Party sweetheart "didn't bother to check the facts, and didn't care that she was stoking an anti-vaccination paranoid conspiracy theory."

Mitt Romney, the Gamblin' Man. Once thought to be the shoo-in choice for the GOP nomination—mostly because he can go for more than 10 seconds without saying something ridiculous—Romney usually has almost frighteningly perfect debate performances.

But everyone has a slip-up here and there, and Romney's came in Iowa after Perry accused him of deleting a sentence on healthcare from a later version of his book No Apology.

Romney denied the charge and fired back a proposition for Perry: "I'll tell you what," the former Massachusetts governor said, "10,000 bucks? Ten thousand-dollar bet?"

Ten thousand dollars also happens to be about what the average Iowan makes in three months, ABC News' Jake Tapper pointed out, painting Romney in an (even more) insensitive light. Not the best line during a time of unprecedented economic hardship.

In the words of Rick Perry, "oops." 

Herman Cain waxes poetic thanks to the Pokémon movie. Amid allegations of sexual harassment and a 13-year affair, Cain bid adieu to his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, leaving attendees with these touching and inspirational words: "Life can be a challenge, life can seem impossible, it's never easy when there is so much on the line. But you can make a difference."