What if Perry had taken a more Trumpian tact in response to his embarrassment?
Sullivan is leery to even look down this rabbit hole when asked by CNBC.com.
Nevertheless, he obliges: "Given the observations of this season, had that happened in (2016), we may have come out the next day and attacked someone in a completely over-the-top manner or dropped a public policy position that was so outrageously newsworthy that folks forgot about the night before."
But with 2012 not being 2016, and with Perry not being Trump, Perry's recourse at the time was far more repentant.
The recovery operation began in earnest right after the CNBC debate on Nov. 9, 2011. Perry showed up in the spin room, insisting his error was stylistic, not substantive. He and his advisers promptly beelined to the East Coast, where Perry made the rounds on the morning political talk shows the following day, finishing the evening with a self-effacing appearance on David Letterman (he blamed the gaffe on "El Nino").
This is how seriously presidential contenders have traditionally responded to gaffes. But with "Trumpism" has come a whole new way of looking at the political gaffe, its consequences, its cures, and ultimately its future. Has Trump merely suspended the laws of campaign physics, or has he changed them? Political science is waiting to find out.
Following the 2012 campaign, Steve Frantzich, a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, authored a book, "O.O.P.S.," which analyzed a series of case studies of how politicians successfully or unsuccessfully recovered from gaffes. Among his central theses was that apology served as the best remedy — a tact the Trumpian model ostentatiously flouts.