Ron Paul said he didn't mean to embarrass fellow Texan Rick Perry when Perry forgot, during a debate, one of the three federal agencies he wants to abolish.
Paul held up five fingers as Perry groped for words, and the video has been viewed thousands of times online since Wednesday's Republican debate.
Paul, a Texas congressman, said in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press that he wasn't piling on and that Perry had "a human reaction." Paul said he was trying to bring up his own proposal to abolish five federal agencies.
"But when he talked about three departments, the thing that flashed through my mind was, `But I'm for five.' That's why I held up five fingers. Only three?" Paul said.
Paul has heaped plenty of criticism on Perry, the Texas governor, and did so again during Wednesday's debate. But Paul said he offered sympathy as the candidates left the stage.
"I said: `You know, we all do that, you know,'" Paul said. "But I said: `You're not supposed to do it on national television.'"
Paul spoke to a crowd of more than 200 Saturday at a veterans event in Spartanburg, where he and Perry and other GOP candidates were appearing at a debate on foreign policy in the evening.