“Open mouth, insert foot” might well become Rick Perry’s unofficial presidential campaign slogan. As many voters learned during the 2012 election, Perry has a tendency to stumble along the campaign trail. Although the former Texas governor is just getting started with his 2016 effort, the contender for the GOP’s presidential nod is already garnering criticism for a comment that his camp now describes as a “mistake.” The gaffe is especially unfortunate given that it was in the context of a discussion regarding the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Perry spoke to Newsmax on Friday regarding the aforementioned tragedy and in his comments, he specifically addressed President Barack Obama’s public comments about the crime.
“This is the modus operandi of this administration, any time there is an accident like this. The president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message.”
It was Perry’s characterization of the shooting as an “accident” that provoked a swift and certain backlash online. Perry also raised eyebrows by suggesting that he thought the actions of alleged shooter Dylann Roof had more to do with Roof’s purported drug use than with a general prevalence of gun violence in America. On social media, outrage regarding Perry’s comments gathered momentum quickly.
Damn. Was hoping to reap the benefits of at least a few months of #RickPerry unintentional comedy before the inevitable self-destruction.
— Ned Dirlik (@NedDirlik) June 20, 2015
— Snarky Democrat (@SnarkyDemo) June 20, 2015
According to Business Insider, Perry’s spokesman Lexi Stemple walked back Perry’s use of the word “accident” later in the day.
“When watching the entire interview, it’s clear from the context of his comments that Governor Perry meant incident,” Stemple said in a statement.
The Washington Post compared Perry’s misstep to a memorable moment during his 2012 presidential run when he was unable to remember the third of three federal agencies he would eliminate if elected president.
Perry was also the subject of widespread criticism during the 2012 race when it became public knowledge that his family-owned hunting ground featured a much-maligned racial slur in its name. A 2011 report by the Huffington Post indicated that Perry often took “friends, fellow legislators, (and) campaign donors” past a rock bearing the incendiary term. Perry maintained that the rock had been painted over years before the controversy arose, but this claim was disputed by a number of witnesses.
Although it’s entirely possible that Perry made an inadvertent slip of the tongue when he referred to the South Carolina shooting as an “accident,” the all-too-public error comes at a time when Americans are still angry and grief-stricken over the tragedy. Voters look for candidates to balance personal principles and candor with some degree of grace under pressure. With a history of regrettable high-profile missteps already in the elephant-like memory banks of political junkies and election-watchers on all sides, Rick Perry’s latest sour note could ultimately prove to be his political swan song.
[Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images]