Newt Hits Perry on the Way Down

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 10 2011 10:04 AM

Newt Hits Perry on the Way Down

DETROIT -- Newt Gingrich squeezed in one last Michigan event before heading out of the state, beckoning around 70 people -- some of them students from a high school class -- to a ballroom in the bowels of an airport hotel.

When Herman Cain's troubles began, getting a Republican rival to attack him was like getting them to oversee a gay marriage in Des Moines. No one wanted to take a swing. This was not the case with Rick Perry, bleeding again after his "oops" debate moment. One attendee at Gingrich's town hall asked a three-part question, then lost her way. "I've forgotten the third part," she said. She wasn't joking, but the room recognized the resonance immediately, and broke into laughter.

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Later, Gingrich got a question that prompted him to talk about government reform at the cabinet level.

"I have several departments in mind," he said. "I've forgotten some of them." Big laughs. "I think the place to start is the Department of Energy." More laughs.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.