New behind-the-scenes details are emerging about Rick Perry's presidential campaign, one that started strong but shriveled after a series of surprising gaffes and misstatements.
A spokesperson with Perry's office confirmed an account in a new book that the Texas governor discovered he had "mild sleep apnea" during his White House bid.
Perry, who entered the race late in August 2011, drew criticism for not taking his presidential run seriously because of his mistakes on the campaign trail. The most memorable moment, perhaps, came in a Michigan debate in November, when Perry failed to remember the third federal agency he had proposed eliminating. He named two, but could not come up with the third, even after appearing to consult notes.
"I would do away with the Education, the, uh, Commerce, and, let's see. I can't," Perry said, after struggling to come up with the name for 53 seconds. "The third one I can't. Sorry. Oops."
Some attributed the mental laps, as well as a candid and comedic New Hampshire speech days earlier, to painkillers after Perry underwent back surgery in the summer of 2011. Perry's team maintained the governor discontinued use of the medicine prior to the start of his campaign.
A Perry spokesperson said the governor, however, found out he had a sleep condition.
"The Governor's July 2011 back surgery and his late entry into the presidential race presented obstacles during his campaign. Gov. Perry was diagnosed with mild sleep apnea during the campaign and was treated with a breathing machine for a few weeks," the spokeswoman said in a statement Sunday.
"Once the governor's back recovered sufficiently to return to his regular exercise routine, the apnea issue was resolved and no further treatment was necessary."
Perry's sleep problems were first reported in a new book, "Oops," by Texas Tribune reporter Jay Root.
"After conducting overnight tests on Perry, they produced a rather startling diagnosis: He had sleep apnea, and it had gone undetected for years, probably decades," Root writes, according to an excerpt of the book posted on the Texas Tribune website.
The ailment, Root continues, affects one in 10 men worldwide and "causes loud snoring and temporary lapses in breathing that disrupt normal sleep." Doctors prescribed a breathing machine to help alleviate symptoms, and Perry, an exercise junkie, soon got back to normal once he was able to work out again.
"The way he told it later, all that rigorous physical activity over the year had kept his sleep apnea in check," Root writes. "Then back surgery he underwent in July 2011 sidelined him, kept him out of the gym, and he went from light sleeper to insomniac."