DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Friday there are eight Supreme Court justices, not nine, and couldn't remember Justice Sonia Sotomayor's name in an editorial board meeting with The Des Moines Register newspaper.
Perry's repeated stumbles are keeping him from steadying his Republican presidential campaign with less than a month remaining before the lead-off caucuses in Iowa.
On Friday, Perry criticized Obama for his two Supreme Court nominees. "When you see his appointment of two, from my perspective, inarguably activist judges, whether it was ." he said, trailing off.
He paused for six seconds. "Not Montemayor," he said.
"Sotomayor," a member of the editorial board said.
"Sotomayor, Sotomayor," Perry said.
He went on to denounce "eight unelected and, frankly, unaccountable judges" in a discussion of prayer in schools. But nine justices sit on the Supreme Court; they are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
"For Washington to tell a local school district that you cannot have a prayer and a time of prayer in that school is, I think, offensive to most Americans," Perry told the editorial board. "I trust the people of the states to make those decisions. I trust those independent school districts to make those decisions better than eight unelected and, frankly, unaccountable judges."
Similar gaffes have plagued Perry. Perhaps the most memorable was during a debate last month, when he couldn't remember one of three federal agencies he has pledged to abolish. As recently as Thursday, Perry had to correct himself after saying the U.S. is at war in Iran instead of Iraq.