AUSTIN -- God forgives people for their "oops moments" even if the American electorate does not, failed Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said Wednesday at a breakfast to celebrate the National Day of Prayer.
The Texas governor famously muttered "oops" during a presidential debate when he couldn't remember the third federal department he'd promised to eliminate if elected. It has become one of the campaign's signature moments.
"Every one of us has 'oops moments' every day" Perry told hundreds of faithful packed into an Austin hotel ballroom.
"America may not forgive you for it," Perry said, drawing laughter and applause. "But God will."
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Perry is an evangelical Christian and often attends prayer gatherings. A week before officially beginning his run for president in August, he hosted a national day of prayer that drew 30,000 to a Houston arena.
Perry has kept a relatively low profile since dropping out of the presidential race two days before the South Carolina primary in January. But he is in his element at religious events and it showed Wednesday, when the relaxed and self-effacing governor played to a sympathetic crowd that often interrupted him with cries of "Amen!"
His speech kicked off state celebrations of the National Day of Prayer a day early. The annual event, held on the first Thursday of May, attracts people of all faiths who pray for the country.