At a town hall meeting at the Institute of Politics at New Hampshire’s Saint Anselm’s College Tuesday, Rick Perry asked that all of the college students in the crowd who will be 21 by Nov. 12 support his bid for the presidency.
The voting age in the United States is, of course, 18. And the 2012 election will be held on Nov. 6, 2012. (The New Hampshire Republican primary, which brought Perry to the state, will take place on Jan. 10).
“Those who are going to be over 21 on November 12th, I ask for your support,” Perry said, eliciting a few chuckles from the crowd.” Those who won’t be, just work hard. Because you’re... counting on us.”
The gaffe can be easily chalked up to a slip of the tongue. In fact after the event Perry spokesman Mark Miner said simply “the governor misspoke.”
But whiffing on electoral basics will hardly help Perry as he struggles to recover from a series of gaffe-filled and lackluster debate performances (the most memorable of which was the “oops” moment during a Republican debate when Perry failed to recall the third government department he would eliminate as president).
Perry would love to capitalize on conservative displeasure with Herman Cain, as the businessman reassesses whether to stay in the 2012 race following allegations that he engaged in a 13-year extramarital affair.
But he will first have to convince voters that he has the verbal dexterity to go toe-to-toe with President Obama in a general election; repeated gaffes will likely hurt any effort to do so.
After the event, Perry ignored questions from reporters about Cain’s status in the race as he was hustled quickly from the college auditorium.