Omar Villafranca, NBC 5 News
Gov. Perry poked fun at his campaign missteps and talked about some of his policy ideas on "The Tonight Show."
He started as the punchline, and now he's a guest on the show.
Gov. Rick Perry chatted up Jay Leno on the Tonight Show on Thursday night.
After walking out to "Deep in the Heart of Texas," Perry poked fun at his campaign missteps and chatted about some of his policy ideas.
"Thanks for coming," Leno said. "You've provided us with a lot of material."
"It's what I do," Perry responded.
He told Leno that his now-infamous "oops" during a Republican debate last month isn't the only thing he gets wrong.
"Well, you know, one, two and, uh, uh," he said to laughter from the audience. "It happens, man. Let me tell you. ... Every now and then I call my dog by the wrong name. I get that wrong, too."
Perry also touched how he seemed to forget in a campaign speech earlier this week that the voting age was 18 and when Election Day is.
"You and I, we grew up in that 21 voting age," he told Leno. "I was thinking drinking age, maybe. You've got to have an excuse, right? That's mine, and I'm sticking to it."
He also said that he meant "November 2012," not "November the 12th," when talking about the date of the presidential election.
"Thanks to Herman Cain, you're in the clear," Leno told him. "Because yours are gaffes. Those are 'oh my Gods.'"
Dallas County Republican Chair Wade Emmert thinks a little self deprecating humor is a good thing.
"Otherwise what people see is the clip of the gaffe, the problem. And if that's all they see, then that's a bigger problem," Emmert said.
But it wasn't all light-hearted laughs.
Perry touched on his flat-tax plan and his call for a "part-time Congress."
"If this is what we get for full-time Congress, if this is what we get with the $174,000 a year, if this is what we get for getting inside information and going and then making money off the stock market, how about let's just cut their salaries at least in half, cut their staff in half, let them go spend half time back home with a real job, working like everybody else does," he said.
Perry pointed to Texas an example, saying the Legislature meets every other year.
"There's truly citizen legislature, and that's what our founding fathers actually set up when we created this country, was a part-time legislature," he said.
Perry also touched a bit on fellow GOP candidate Herman Cain's woes and talked about the importance of a candidate's personal life.
"People hate hypocrites," he said. "I think that's the big issue. I've been in public service for 20-plus years, and my life has been an open book."
The Perry campaign ran an ad in Iowa during Leno that shows Perry poking fun at his now famous debate gaffe.
Stopping by a late night talk show isn't regular for a presidential candidate, but it has happened.
In 1992, then-Gov. Bill Clinton played the sax on "The Arsenio Hall Show." Many credit the appearance for boosting Clinton's sagging campaign.
"Being on 'The Tonight Show' is good politics," Emmert said before Thursday's episode aired. "Even if they're talking about something and Perry can poke fun at himself, of course, it's good strategy, and it gets him in front of the people in a positive way. If he does well on 'The Tonight Show,' people will like him, and then they'll want to hear his message."
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