Updated [11:41 ET]: More analysis and transcripts added.
Interviewing Texas Governor Rick Perry on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Ann Curry asked the Republican presidential candidate about a flub in Wednesday's CNBC debate and wondered: "One of your fundraisers told The Wall Street Journal, simply, 'He just ended his campaign.' Have you thought about ending your campaign? Are you staying in this race, sir?" [Audio available here]
On CNN's American Morning, Christine Romans struck a similar tone with Perry: "How is this not the end? Convince us that this is not the end of your – of your candidacy....across the board you're hearing folks say that this was one of the worst, if not the worst, debate moment, those 54 seconds, you know, in modern primary history." [View video after the jump]
Curry also touted how: "A former aide to George W. Bush told The New York Times your stumble was the, quote, 'human equivalent of the shuttle Challenger.'" The other network morning shows promoted the same sentiment.
On CBS's The Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge used the same quote: "These are some quotes I just want to read you from Republican strategists. "It was a political death knell." "It was the human equivalent of the shuttle Challenger." When you were on stage last night during this miscue, did you realize how big a mistake it was?"
On ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos observed: "Larry Sabato, presidential scholar, already calling this the worst moment in modern primary debates. You've got a host of Republican operatives out overnight saying this is a death blow to your campaign."
While media piled on Perry, Curry's grilling was particularly stunning due to her own history of on-air gaffes. On the February 4, 2008 Today, Curry couldn't find the state of Illinois on a map and pointed to Minnesota. On October 10, 2010 she declared her wish that all military weapons were just inflatable toys. Even on Thursday's broadcast, Curry talked to co-host Matt Lauer about his latest "Where in the World" location, a space observatory in the Swiss Alps, and wondered: "Do they have a telescope?"
Here is a transcript of Curry's November 10 exchange with Perry on NBC:
ANN CURRY: You know this morning the reaction, Governor, has not been kind. A former aide to George W. Bush told The New York Times your stumble was the, quote, "human equivalent of the shuttle Challenger." And one of your fundraisers told The Wall Street Journal, simply, "He just ended his campaign." Have you thought about ending your campaign? Are you staying in this race, sir?
RICK PERRY: Ann, you know what today is? It's the 236th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. If there was a day to stay in a fight, this is it. So you bet I'm going to continue on and this campaign is about ideas. It's not about who's the slickest debater or whether anyone's made a mistake or not. We're all going to make mistakes.
CURRY: Are you going to be doing any other debates, sir?
PERRY: It's about laying out our vision.
CURRY: Are you going to be doing anymore debates?
PERRY: Oh, absolutely, we'll be in South Carolina on Saturday.
Here is a transcript of the exchange between Romans and Perry on CNN:
CHRISTINE ROMANS: People look at that and say you're talking about peace in the Middle East. You're talking about delicate diplomacy on the economics front with China. You're talking about a dangerous moment in Europe. And that's the performance they see and they wonder if you have the ability to handle the world stage the way you handled that debate stage last night. So my question to you is, how is this not the end? Convince us that this is not the end of your – of your candidacy.
RICK PERRY: Well, we're going to be going back to those primary states and talking about our tax plan and talking about how we get America back working again. I may not be the best debater, the slickest politician on that stage. But what they do know about me is that for ten years I've been the chief executive officer of the state that created more jobs than any other state in the nation while America lost 2.5 million. What they're looking for is substance. Not necessarily the slickest debater. So that's what we are going to be focused on and talking about our plan that not only allows our taxes to get simple, 20%, they take their deductions, put it on a post card and send it in and end the IRS as we know it today. And get up every day and share with people that my goal is to make Washington D.C. as inconsequential in their lives as we can make it and getting rid some of those agencies we were making remarks about last night is a good start.
ROMANS: The criticism pretty fierce this morning. I mean, across the board you're hearing folks say that this was one of the worst, if not the worst, debate moment, those 54 seconds, you know, in modern primary history. I mean, you can dispute – if you want to dispute that, go right ahead. That's fine. But my question is, are you worried at all, going forward, about what it means for raising money? For your supporters? If you're worried about wavering support among your supporters?
Here is a transcript of Wragge's exchange with Perry on CBS:
CHRIS WRAGGE: These are some quotes I just want to read you from Republican strategists. "It was a political death knell." "It was the human equivalent of the shuttle Challenger." When you were on stage last night during this miscue, did you realize how big a mistake it was?
RICK PERRY: Well, listen, any time you're standing up in front of however many million people we were and you have a loss of train of thought, sure. I mean it impacts you. But the fact is one error is not going to make or break a campaign. So we're going to keep talking about what's important to the people of this country and that's the substance of how to get Americans back working again.
Here is a transcript of Stephanopoulos's exchange with Perry on ABC:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But as you know, Governor, that is one of the standard questions that everyone prepares for, 'Name three agencies you'd get rid of?' Larry Sabato, presidential scholar, already calling this the worst moment in modern primary debates. You've got a host of Republican operatives out overnight saying this is a death blow to your campaign.
RICK PERRY: Well, the bottom line is that we're going to get up every day and go talk to the American people. And they know that there's not a perfect candidate that's been made yet. And I'm kind of proof positive of it every day, that people make mistakes when they debate. People make mistakes when they make statements. But there's one thing that Americans do know about me, and that is that my conservative beliefs about getting this country back on track are very deep-founded. For ten years in the state of Texas, as I've had the great privilege to serve there, we created more jobs than any other state in the nation while America lost two and a half million. So if they're looking for the slickest debater or the best, smoothest politician, I may not be it. But if they're looking for someone who is a principled, fiscal conservative, they know they can count on me every day.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I take your point, Governor. But it seemed to come at the absolute worst time for you in this campaign. You've been on a downward spiral since the campaign began, dropped almost 20 points, in our ABC News poll nationally. If you look at the polls in the early states, you've gone from first to fourth in Iowa. First to fourth in South Carolina. First to fourth in Florida. Doing even worse in New Hampshire. How do you recover?