Rick Perry’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination was doomed by painkillers he had to take after back surgery, a new book claims.
The drugs put him off his game in the GOP debates, leading to his famous “oops” moment when he couldn’t remember which government programs he wanted to eliminate, authors Mike Allen and Evan Thomas write.
The claim is made in the digital book, “Inside the Circus,” the second of four books on the campaign being produced by Politico.
In an excerpt obtained by the website Gawker, the authors claim Perry had to take the drugs or the pain from his back would have become so bad he would not have been able to stand throughout the two-hour debates.
But the authors claim Perry wasn’t ready for primetime in any case. “In September, a close ally of Perry's had remarked to a friend that if Perry were smart, and if they had a couple of months to prepare, then they'd have a shot,” Allen and Thomas wrote.
“The man added, "But he ain't, and we don't."
Then it reveals the secret about the painkillers. “A bad back doomed any chance Perry stood to break through. It became an open secret that he was using painkillers in sufficient dosages to keep him standing through the two-hour debates.”
The authors suggest the medications led Perry to indulge in uncharacteristic behavior.
“The manager of a rival campaign was at a urinal in an empty bathroom in Hanover, New Hampshire, before the Bloomberg News debate on October 11, when he heard someone come through the door loudly singing ‘I've Been Working on the Railroad.’ "
It was Gov. Perry. When the aide left the bathroom, he could still hear Perry singing.
Perry underwent a spinal fusion operation and nerve decompression on July 1 to deal with recurring back pain.
His “oops” moment came during a CNBC-sponsored debate in Rochester, Mich., on Nov. 10. He said he would eliminate three government agencies, but could only remember Commerce and Education.
“The third agency of government I would do away with, Education, the um Commerce, and let’s see…I can’t, the third one I can’t…oops,” he said. He later remembered the third agency that should be axed was Energy.
That debate performance came three weeks after Perry gave a bizarre, unconnected speech in Manchester, N.H., in which he pulled faces, grinned inappropriately and went off on strange tangents, leading some observers to suggest he had been drinking.
During an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity in December, a month before he quit the race, Perry acknowledged the surgery had taken a toll on his campaign.
He said the only thing he would have changed would have been to have pushed up the date of his surgery from July to January to give him more time to recover.
“I didn't realize it was going to have as big an impact – frankly, I didn't even know it was having the impact it was having on me from the standpoint of just being fatigued.
“It showed up in the first few debates,” he added.
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