AUSTIN (KXAN) - When Gov. Rick Perry launched his bid for the presidency last year, the long-serving Republican looked so good on paper that Texas political reporters were already looking ahead to covering his acceptance speech at the GOP National Convention.
Those plans were scrapped with the utterance of a single word: "Oops."
And that became the title of journalist Jay Root's new book chronicling Perry's brief, gaffe-filled and finally doomed bid to take on Democratic President Barack Obama this year.
"It's still hard to watch," Root, whose online book, "Oops! A Diary from the 2012 Campaign Trail," was published Sunday, said Wednesday on KXAN News at Noon. He was referring to a news clip from Nov. 9 last year when Perry suffered his now-famous memory lapse during a televised debate with his rivals for the GOP nomination.
When he realized that his train of thought had hopelessly derailed, the only thing governor could come up with was, "Oops."
"I feel for him. It was very embarrassing. It probably ranks as the worst gaffe ever on a presidential debate stage."
Root, a longtime Austin reporter who served as the state Capitol bureau chief of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and as a correspondent for The Associated Press before joining the staff of the Texas Tribune in 2011, said a sleeping disorder compounded by the effects of recent back surgery contributed to Perry's discomfort on the national stage.
Few, if anyone saw the governor's meltdown coming when he vaulted to frontrunner status almost as soon as he entered the presidential race.
Root said that as soon as he was assigned to the campaign, he expected to be in Tampa, Fla., the following summer to watch Perry accept the nomination that ultimately went to one-time rival Mitt Romney.
After all, Root said, Perry appeared to fit the profile of a solid conservative with state-level executive experience that generally plays well with Republican voters.
That pedigree worked well for another Texas governor, George W. Bush, when he won the presidency 12 years ago.
But unlike Bush's bid, which Root also covered, Perry went forward without laying the necessary groundwork. Bush, by contrast, planned his 2000 run for at least two years.
"He lacked preparation," Root said of Perry.
Asked if the governor might try again, Root said it could not be ruled out. Experience in a national campaign is generally an asset on the GOP side, he said. But the ice could be thin if he stumbles again because it might cement the governor's image as a gaff machine.
"I think he knows what rock bottom looks like," Root said.
Federal, state and local authorities on Wednesday arrested 15 people and seized 70 firearms in raid on a methamphetamine operation based in Burnet County.
A 13-year-old girl who told police she had been kidnapped from her school and assaulted on Monday, admitted to police she made the story up.
TxTAG’s customer call center lines are jammed as toll road violators scramble to pay up and avoid staying on a published scofflaw list.
The U.S. Grand Prix race in Austin next year will be held Nov. 2 and F1 weekend will not coincide with a UT Longhorns home football game.
One woman died early Wednesday after several shots were fired at a North Austin mechanic shop.
Bomb squad officials reported to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport after a suspicious package located in a cargo area Wednesday.